Category Archives: Opinion

Mike Trout Cowboy Hat

In the Ribs – 2022 Season Review

Embed from Getty Images

A common trope on Twitter has been “Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani do something amazing as Angles lose 5-3.” Once again the “stars and scrubs” approach to building a roster has failed the Angels’ hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The disappointment fans felt this year was similar to taking a fastball to the ribs. The Angels came out of the gate with a strong promising start that seemed to be a sure sign that this was a playoff team. Those dreams ended when the team lost 14 games in a row and manager Joe Maddon was fired. “How could this happen again?” is the question that surrounds fans of Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels.

The 2022 season started with two controversies. The first was a player lockout by the owners as the players’ collective bargaining agreement had expired. A question of whether or not the season would be played at all hung over the sport as the lock out extended past opening day. The union and the league were eventually able to come to an agreement and found a way to play a full 162 game season. Mike Trout found himself involved in negotiations as the season became threatened. Though Jared Walsh, rather than Trout was the Angels’ team representative, he felt his stature in the sport required some responsibility in making sure a deal was reached.

As Spring Training was underway and players geared up for the season Joe Maddon shocked Trout and the baseball world by suggesting that this would be the year that Trout moved off of his Center Field position and made way for younger talent. Brandon Marsh seemed to be the heir apparent to CF. When asked about it, Maddon said that Trout would be making more starts in Right Field. This was the first of many managerial stumbles for Maddon as he had not first talked about it with Mike Trout at all. When Maddon and Trout were able to discuss the situation they came to an agreement that Trout would be playing in Center and “that was that”(Maddon’s most notorious blunder was a decision to walk Corey Seager with two outs and the bases loaded that still resulted in three runs scored).

After an early season ending calf injury in 2021 everyone was excited to see Trout back on the field at full strength. The Angels came out of the chute red hot for the first 6 weeks of the year. Trout decided to swing for more power at the cost of a greater strikeout rate than normal. The results were outstanding, his OPS+ was 194 (league average is 100) and he led the league in most of the batting statistics.

At the end of May Trout fell into a batting slump and then a bizzarre controvery erupted with Trout inexplicably in the center of the storm. A fight broke out between Tommy Pham and Joc Pederson. The brough-ha-ha was a spill over from a high stakes fantasy football league. Pham later put the blame on Trout’s lack of responsibility as league commissioner. Trout faced the controversy head on, but let everyone know he would no longer be serving as commissioner in the league.

And then things fell apart. From May 24th through June 10th the Angels failed to win a game. They ended up losing 14 games in a row. In the midst of the streak, manager Joe Maddon was fired from his job and replaced by Phil Nevin. The firing of Maddon might have had more to do with philosophical differences with GM Perry Minasian about how extensively analytics should be used in game decisions. But the losing streak provided justification. The Angels as a team never recovered.

This moment where Trout pointed out from center field that his pitcher was tipping his pitches seemed to encapsulate frustration that another season of Mike Trout’s career was being wasted on a sub-standard team.

Shortly before the All Star game Mike was pulled from a game due to a back injury. What seemed at first to be a precautionary absence turned into a 40 game DL stint. The word was eventually released that Trout was suffering from a rare injury for baseball players, a strained rib cage was more specifically a “costovertebral dysfunction at T5. Many feared this might be the beginning of the end of Trout’s career. He eventually returned and assured everyone that the condition required extra attention but would not be limiting his ability to play moving forward. Trout’s performance on the field proved his words to be true. Most notably Trout had a 7 game home run streak in September. He ended the streak just one game shy of tying the league record.

Despite missing 40 games Mike was able to finish the season with 40 home runs and 6.3 WAR (just missing the top 10 for the entire league). Competing in his 11th full season Trout surpassed a number of career milestones. He pass 900 walks, 1,000 runs, 1,500 hits, 50 triples, and on his final at bat of the season reached 350 home runs. This final home run turned out to measure 490 feet, the longest on Trout’s career and the longest by any player this year. So, yeah, his back is fine.

He finished the season with 82.4 WAR, surpassing Joe DiMaggio, Pete Rose, Rod Carew, and Nolan Ryan on the career WAR list.

At the end of August, team owner Arte Moreno announced that he would be selling the team. The Angels continue to face a lawsuit from the overdose death of Tyler Skaggs, and an attempt to purchase the stadium from the city of Anaheim failed due to a corruption probe involving Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. Moreno had frustrated fans due to his high involvement in payroll decisions that typically focused on players with big names, but failed to develop a strong minor league system, neglected to sign international free agents for a number of years, and refused to extend payroll past the luxury tax threshold. Moreno purchased the team for $183 million and will likely sell it for $2.5 billion. Questions about how long the sale will take and if new ownership will be willing to invest in additional payroll in time to make the Angels significantly better before the 2023 hover over the team and the hope of seeing Mike Trout in the playoffs once more.

It Didn’t Even Happen – 2021 Season Review

Embed from Getty Images

Mike Trout’s 2021 season will hopefully be remembered as the worst of his career. In the pandemic shortened 2020 season Trout only played in 53 games. To everyone’s shock that would not be the lowest game total in his career. On May 17th, while playing the Cleveland Indians, Trout pulled his right calf while running from second to third base on a 2-out pop-up. He immediately knew he was seriously hurt upon returning to the dugout. He later explained that he felt a pop while pushing off.

Continue reading It Didn’t Even Happen – 2021 Season Review
Mike Trout 2020 Season Review

The Mad Dash – 2020 Season Review

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.

Continue reading The Mad Dash – 2020 Season Review

The Best Yet – 2019 Season Review

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.

Continue reading The Best Yet – 2019 Season Review
Mike Trout 2019

Settling In – 2019 and Beyond

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.

Continue reading Settling In – 2019 and Beyond

Trout’s Next Contract

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.

Continue reading Trout’s Next Contract

Diamond in the Rough – 2018 Season Review

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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

Marketing a Superstar or Marketing a Sport

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.

Embed from Getty Images

Later in the day Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register asked Manfred more about promoting Trout.

Continue reading Marketing a Superstar or Marketing a Sport

Mike and Jess Trout Wedding

Can Mike Trout’s 2018 Season Rival the Best Off-season Ever?

A post shared by Mike Trout (@miketrout) on

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.

A post shared by Jess Tara (@jesstaratrout) on

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.

Continue reading Can Mike Trout’s 2018 Season Rival the Best Off-season Ever?

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Kole Clhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is greeted by on deck batter Mike Trout #27 as he returns to the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners on September 30, 2017 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Speedbump – Mike Trout’s 2017 Season Review

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

All of these feats would seem to make him a shoe-in for his third MVP award, but then May 28th put a serious dent in Trout’s season and the Angel’s playoff chances. Continue reading The Speedbump – Mike Trout’s 2017 Season Review