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Data: Historical figures and Trout's 2020 projection from FanGraphs, which the author used to project the rest of Trout's career; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

If there's no baseball season in 2020, Mike Trout could lose his best chance at a career year — and it could ultimately keep him from becoming baseball's new home run king.

The state of play: Trout's power numbers (HR and slugging percentage) have steadily increased through his career, while his strikeouts and stolen bases have gone down. That's indicative of a player who understands how to age gracefully — and because he's also a hitting savant, you can understand why he may be headed for a HR boom.

What they're saying: "[Trout] is at the golden nexus of an athlete's life when accumulated wisdom (from 1,199 career games and 22,652 pitches seen) intersects with physical peak," writes SI's Tom Verducci.

  • A healthy and full 2020 would have been "probably his best chance to make a run at 60 home runs."

The big picture: Trout's numbers are hard to project, because he's not human. But Hank Aaron, who began playing at roughly the same age, provides a great comparison, and his 23-season career offers insight into what Trout's future could hold.

  • Setting a baseline: Aaron hit 253 HR in his first eight seasons; Trout hit 280 (not including the five in his pre-rookie season). In four of those eight seasons, their totals deviated by three or fewer, so they're pretty darn comparable in the power department.
  • Aaron's career: Hank played 15 more seasons after that, mashing 502 additional dingers. The first 12 of those seasons showed no drop-off, as he averaged 38 per year, but in his final three (age 40-42), he averaged just 14.
  • Trout's possible future: Let's assume Trout plays 23 seasons like Hammerin' Hank. If he averages the same 38 HR per year for the next 12 seasons, and the same 14 in his final three, he'd finish with 783 dingers — the most all-time.
  • But if we subtract his projected 2020 HR total (46, per Fangraphs), then he's down to 737. Amazing, incredible, and absurd? Yes. New home run king? No.

The bottom line: Ted Williams lost five prime-adjacent years to World War II and Korea, leaving countless accolades on the cutting room floor, and Ken Griffey, Jr., battled injuries through his 30s, depriving him of a real shot at the HR record.

  • If baseball doesn't return until 2021, what will Mike Trout lose?

Go deeper: Fantasy baseball rolls on despite coronavirus-delayed season

Go deeper

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."

Senate leaders sell members on debt limit deal

Sen. Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are urging their respective caucuses to back a deal that would clear a path to raising the debt ceiling.

Driving the news: The agreement, negotiated by the two leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), involves Congress passing a law allowing a one-time rule change so the Senate can raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 typically needed to overcome the filibuster.