Mike Trout may have had the most epic off-season ever. In December he married his longtime girlfriend Jess. They enjoyed a beautiful winter ceremony followed by a honeymoon in the tropical sun.
If that wasn’t enough to celebrate, Trout’s favorite football team the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl. This victory came despite the Eagles losing their star quarterback (and Trout’s hunting buddy), Carson Wentz , to injury. The Eagles faced the favored New England Patriots with an underdog’s prospect of winning but emerged the champions. . . .And Mike was there to see it live.
Even on the baseball side of life things started looking up for Trout and the Angels. The team offered an extension to All-Star Justin Upton to fill the left field position for the next several years. This signing alone is bound to help Trout get more protection in the lineup and the ability to score more runs. Then the team was able to make a trade for Ian Kinsler to take on second base and lead off. Kinsler is also a former All-Star. His presence in the lineup will hopefully guarantee Trout more RBI opportunities. This pesky stat has been shown to be ineffective at determining an individual player’s worth but has thwarted Trout’s ability to win additional MVP awards.
The biggest surprise of the offseason was the Angels acquisition of Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani; a two-way player who will pitch and bat as a designated hitter on off days. The league hasn’t seen a player attempt this feat on a regular basis since Babe Ruth. Despite being days away from his wedding, Trout helped the team woo Ohtani to the club via video conference. Scouts project Ohtani to be a top of the line starter with a 100mph fastball and a devastating splitter. As a hitter he has a powerful left hand bat, and did we mention the Angels just lowered the right field fences by 10 feet?
Then to cap off an encouraging off season the Angels signed All-Start shortstop Zack Cozart to convert to third base. Cozart is a better than average defender who became an All-Star in 2017 after making some hitting adjustments. After two consecutive losing seasons, all eyes seem to be on winning in 2018. The Angels have a monumental task in wrestling away the division from the Houston Astros, the defending World Series Champions. Most preseason predictions put the Angels down as a solid contender for the wild card. Our own prediction is that they will win 92 games and only contend as division winners if Houston faces unexpected injuries from some of their stars. But once in the playoffs, all bets are off. If Ohtani lives up to the hype by the second half of the season and the rest of the pitching staff remains uninjured they could be a serious threat in the postseason.
On the work General Manager Billy Eppler has done this offseason, Mike Trout said: “If you would have told me three months ago this would be our team, I would have thought there’s no way he could pull it off.” But they have pulled it off and now it’s in the hands of Mike Trout and his teammates to make the 2018 season live up to a fantastic offseason.