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.
Trout continued to show his prowess in the field with spectacular home-run robbing catches (including robbing reigning NL MVP Christian Yellich), diving catches and even an 98mph laser to throw Max Muncy out at home.Embed from Getty Images
At the plate was the place Trout’s star shone brightest. For the second time in his career he led the league in both On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. No one else got on base as effectively and Trout and no one hit the ball as hard as he did. He was leading the league in home runs (45) until the last weekend of the season. This despite the fact that he was injured for most of the month of September and had to sit out the final weeks in order to get foot surgery.
Trout developed a painful condition known as Morton’s Neuroma. The neuroma is a thickening of tissue around a nerve leading to the toes. It caused Trout significant pain while running. Trout attempted a procedure known as a cryoablation to relieve the pain. The procedure involved sticking hollow needles into his foot which allowed a cold liquid to impact the area around the neuroma. The procedure was ineffective and Trout’s season ended so that he could have surgery on September 20th.
The surgery might have come later if the Angels’ season had been brighter. Despite Trout’s excellent performance, the rest of his team was unable to provide enough support around him to make the team a playoff threat. In the early part of the season the Angels appeared to be a team that had the potential to be on the bubble of making the post-season. Early season injuries to Justin Upton and Zack Cozart left the team feeling shorthanded. The failure of their free agent pitchers, Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, to positively contribute also put the team behind the in the standings. But the emergence of Tommy La Stella and rookies Griffin Canning and Luis Rengifo gave the Angels the appearance at the midpoint of the season of becoming a potential challenger for a Wild Card spot. Then on July 1st tragedy struck the team. Pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of a drug overdose while in Texas. Shortly there after Tommy La Stella broke his shin after fouling a ball off his leg. From there the season began to unravel. By the beginning of September the prospect s of having a winning season seemed to be out of reach. Trout, Justin Upton, Griffin Canning and Shohei Ohtani were all shut down for the season and much of starting lineup began to resemble the Angels Minor league affiliate, AAA Salt Lake Bees.
By missing almost a full month to injury Trout seemed to open the door to Alex Bregman for American League MVP. Trout produced a league-leading 8.3 Wins Above Replacement. Most pundits acknowledged that Trout was the best player in the sport and deserved the MVP award while also addressing Alex Bregman’s excellent performance and his teams place as a strong favorite to win the World Series. A playoff narrative is often tempting to writers tasked with voting for the MVP and Trout’s absence in the final weeks may cause voters to become forgetful.