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Mike Trout's eras tour continues: He passes Ken Griffey Jr. in career WAR

Mike Trout has always played loud, from his home run-saving catches to his prodigious power mixed with speed, an athletic combo that evokes memories of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

But greatness can move in silence, too.

So it was this week, when Trout had a workmanlike - for him - four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles that included home runs in consecutive games and a decent dinger robbery in center field, too. Somehow, it created enough incremental movement that led to a momentous snapshot in baseball history.

Trout, you see, has passed Ken Griffey Jr. in career Wins Above Replacement.

We're not here to tout WAR - in this case, measured by Baseball-Reference - as the catch-all for greatness on the diamond. Nor is the aim to definitively declare Trout the greater player than Griffey, or to trample on your memories of The Kid.

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Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout has 10 home runs this season.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout has 10 home runs this season.

Instead, it speaks more to Trout's greatness and the privilege fans of a certain age have had to witness two of the most dynamic players of all time.

For the record, Trout, 31, has now amassed 84.0 WAR - a statistic designed to quantify a player's overall contributions beyond that of a replacement-level player - since his 2011 debut. That edges him past Griffey (83.8) and Pedro Martinez (83.9 - though pitcher WAR is decidedly less effective) into 56th place all-time. Trout will soon pass pitcher Fergie Jenkins (84.2) and by season's end, should vault Chipper Jones (85.3) and perhaps knock pitcher Robin Roberts (86.2) out of the top 50 all-time; the 55 players above Trout are all Hall of Famers, unless they aren't yet eligible for induction or are closely tied to performance-enhancing drugs.

But back to Griffey.

While Trout's previous two seasons have been curbed by calf and back injuries, he has so far avoided the injury scourge - hamstrings, most specifically - that dogged Griffey and limited him to 70, 53 and 83 games played in the heart of his early 30s.

That created a mild what-if around The Kid's career, even as he slugged 630 home runs, posted a .907 OPS, won 10 Gold Gloves, reached 13 All-Star Games and won an MVP award. Might he have given Barry Bonds competition in the race to Hank Aaron's 755 homers? We'll never know.

Trout? Well, if you must compare, he's sitting on a .999 OPS, 360 home runs, 10 All-Star nods and three MVP awards. And at age 30, he was in virtual lockstep with all-time WAR leader Babe Ruth.

As Trout continues into the great unknown and stands shoulder to shoulder with Griffey, it can't hurt to note their immeasurable contributions to the game.

As baseball lumbered out of the 1994-95 work stoppage, it was Griffey who made the game cool as hell while producing at Hall of Fame levels, too. Not even a broken wrist in 1995 could stop him from completing one of the greatest dashes around the bases to capture the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees, a season credited with "saving baseball" in Seattle.

His career-adjusted OPS of 136 (Trout's is 141) was curtailed by many of his prime years occurring in the heart of the game's so-called steroid era. Yet Griffey was never connected to the PED crisis, and his numbers have stood out even more as we get further from that period.

Perhaps Trout's legacy will be his enduring and almost unquantifiable greatness in an era when quants and "efficiency" and capturing wins on a budget became a maddening obsession. In an era when three true outcomes (a walk, a homer, a strikeout) overwhelmed the game, Trout offered the enduring hope you'd see something remarkable that night at the ballpark.

It seemed appropriate that Trout and Griffey's mutual regard intersected this spring, when Griffey was a hitting coach for the USA's World Baseball Classic team and Trout its center fielder. One day, Griffey borrowed Trout's batting gloves, grabbed a bat and parked the ball into the seats in Miami.

At age 53.

"It was sick," Trout told USA TODAY Sports. "Nothing like it."

And there was nobody quite like Griffey, even if the cold, hard numbers suggest Trout has done just a little bit more.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Trout stats: Angels slugger passes Ken Griffey Jr. in MLB WAR