Mike Trout’s 2020 season ended with MLB’s playoffs once again lacking the best player in a quest for a championship. A shortened season caused by a global pandemic casts a sense of proportion on the disappointment, but in baseball terms. . . this is getting old.
The 2020 season offered a lot of promise for the Angels to reach the finally reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Anthony Rendon signed a free-agent contract and would provide sufficient lineup protection for Trout. Shohei Ohtani would be able to rejoin the meager pitching staff. Top prospect Jo Adell would be waiting in the wings to join the team, and the league would open up the playoff structure so that half of the total teams would make the playoffs. For the Angels to miss the playoffs in that situation the team would have to seriously underperform. Sadly, that is exactly what happened.
The 2019 season ends with Mike Trout turning in what he considers his best season to date. It’s hard to argue with his assessment and impossible to argue against his place as the best in the game.
The season began with Mike Trout signing the largest contract in MLB history. $426.5 million over 13 years with an average annual value of $36.5 million, the contract effectively insures Trout will remain an Angel for the rest of his career. He showed that he was absolutely worth every penny by outperforming the contract once again. His value to his team for the year could easily have been worth as much as $60-80 million as compared to other free agent signings.
After signing a career forming contract that will likely leave him in an Angels uniform for the rest of his career, Mike Trout sets out to lead his team into the playoffs. Most pundits and projection systems have the Angels as a slightly improved team from 2018 that is one of the last teams to miss the playoffs. While there is some chance that the Angels out-perform these predictions a lot will ride on players not-named Mike Trout. Most notably the starting pitching staff will have to exhibit greater resilience to injury than it has shown in the last several years. Other players such as Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani will need to return from injury with the power to impact the offense in ways that prevent teams from intentionally walking Trout.
This offseason has seen the signing of contracts of three of Mike Trout’s contemporaries. Manny Machado signed a ten year deal with the Padres. Nolan Arenado remains with the Rockies for potentially another 8 years. Bryce Harper just completed terms with the Phillies, locking him up for 13 years. In addition Giancarlo Stanton is in the midst of a 13 year contract with the Marlins/Yankees. These four contracts represent the best available information about what kind of extension the Angels might offer Trout and/or what kind of deal he might expect on the open market after the 2020 season. While none of these players offer the same performance value as Trout, in fact he might be as good as any two of them combined, they represent the elite talent at the same age.
The 2018 season began with a great deal of promise for Mike Trout. Trout had recently gotten married and seen his favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, win the Super Bowl. In addtion, the Angels offseason saw the addition of Justin Upton (through a contract extension), Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler and the two-way phenom, Shohei Ohtani. It appeared the Angels would be on track for their first playoff appearance since 2014.
The season started with a bang as the Angels won 11 of their first 13 games. The offense seemed to be on fire and the pitching staff healthier than it had been in years. But that optimism didn’t last much past May. Key injuries to Kenyan Middleton, Garret Richards, Shohei Ohtani, and Zack Cozart railroaded the team. In addition Kole Calhoun ran into a major hitting slump which required him to rework his entire swing in the offseason. Justin Upton had a mediocre start to his season that didn’t really strengthen until the latter part of the year. All of these plus a slew of other injuries robbed the Angels of a winning season. Meanwhile Mike Trout continued to do Mike Trout things. Continue reading Diamond in the Rough – 2018 Season Review→
On the Monday before the All Star Game Bill Shaikin started a lot of trouble by publishing a piece in the LA Times about the struggles in getting Mike Trout the kind of attention he deserves. Aside from playing most of his games on the West Coast and a lack of playoff appearances Shaikin also stated that Trout turns down high profile opportunities to promote himself and the sport. Torii Hunter is quoted in the piece as saying:
“If Mike really wanted to, if he got a marketing team and everything, he would be the face of baseball,” . . . “He doesn’t. He wants to be with his wife and keep it simple.
“It’s his choice. It’s not anybody else’s choice.”
At the end of the article Shaikin asks:
Should the league do a better job of promoting him?
“I don’t know,” Trout said. “I’m not telling anybody to do that.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred went on The Dan Patrick Show (go to the 33 minute mark) the next day and when asked about promoting players cited Shaikin’s piece and agreed with it. Manfred felt it was the responsibility of the league to promote its players but they could only promote them as much as they were willing to be promoted.
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.
Mike Trout wrapped up his sixth season once again sitting atop MLB as baseball’s best player and unfortunately once again sitting out of the playoffs. Despite his stellar play the thing that will most be remembered about 2017 was the period of just over 6 weeks in which he did not play.
Trout started the season off with a bang being named the American League Player of the Month for April. It was the best start of his career to date and the fourth time he has received the award. His all-around stats continued to build as he surpassed all of the expected career plateaus during the year. He passed 150 stolen bases, 500 RBI, 500 walks, 1,000 hits, 200 doubles and reached 200 home runs just as the season came to a close. He once again found a way to lead the league in on-base percentage (.442) and was able to couple that with the simultaneous lead in slugging percentage (.629). That naturally made him the league leader in OPS, a remarkable 1.071. He finished the season with a 187 OPS+. At an early stage in the season he had an absurd OPS+ over 200.
After just five full seasons in the Major Leagues Mike Trout has shown himself to be on pace for a Hall of Fame Career. It could be that he reaches stat-benchmarks that put him as shoe-in for Cooperstown 3 years before he even has reached the ten years of playing time eligibility. Trout is the only player to come in first or second in MVP voting in his first 5 years. A respectable argument can be made that if you take away stats influenced by his teammates; Trout would could have won the MVP award all five years. He has been the leader in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in the American League for the past five years in a row. If he can accomplish the feat again this year he will be the first player since Babe Ruth (1926-1931) to do it six years in a row.
At 25 years of age, he has more hits that Pete Rose had at 25, more home runs than Barry Bonds had at 25, and more stolen bases than Rickey Henderson had a 25. Though it’s unlikely for him to beat any of their records (much less all three), Trout has proven himself to be an elite force in baseball.
In addition for seeking his third MVP award keep your eye for him to reach 1,000 hits sometime around mid-July. He should have 500 walks in mid-May. He’ll find 50 career WAR by the end of April (he’s ALREADY the Angels all-time leader). He’ll reach the 200 doubles mark in August and if things go his way he could hit his 200th home run in the last few weeks of the season.
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. He needs a nickname that people will use (Millville Meteor hasn’t really caught on). Let’s help him establish himself in our cultural lore. Give Trout a new nickname! These options were based on fan suggestions found here.
Got another idea? Share it in the comments section.