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.
A slow start in 2019 might panic fans in the same way a hot start excited them in 2018. The season is long and inevitably the core strength of a team is revealed. While a playoff run is the goal for any year, Trout’s long term contract says one thing very clearly, there’s no reason to sell the future to be a winner now. Trout was explicit in his support for Billy Eppler and his development plan. A wave of young players will begin impacting the team as early as this year when Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez make their projected MLB debuts. A number of position players are sure to follow in 2020 and 2021. Trout anchors a future in Anaheim that does not need to sacrifice seven years of winning in the future for 3 more months of above average play in 2019.
Angel fans should sit back and make themselves comfortable watching this process play out. While the 2018 team played below expectations that offers the hope that the 2019 could possibly swing the opposite direction and outperform them. If that happens; enjoy! If it doesn’t, don’t worry, you still get to watch the greatest player in the history of the sport wear the same cap as you.
In 2019 Mike Trout approaches some career highlights. Most notably he will most likely reach the 250 mark for home runs and doubles. His 250th home run may land in the seats sometime in mid-May. His 1,200th hit may find it’s way into the field sometime in the second or third week of the season. He’ll grab his 200th stolen base just before the All-Star break. Trout shows no signs of regression as he enters the years typically consider a player’s prime. When it comes to another MVP award, there’s no doubt, Mike Trout will be in contention.