Tag: Mike Trout

Mike Trout Is Bull’s-Eye Choice for AL MVP as MLB’s Consensus Best Player

It feels like an upset that Mike Trout won the American League MVP. That says enough about where the baseball world is.

Or rather, where it’s been.

In the weeks, days and hours leading up to Thursday’s big announcement, it seemed like everyone was bracing for Trout (and fellow finalist Jose Altuve) to fall short of Mookie Betts in the AL MVP vote.

Trout had numbers, as usual. But Betts had numbers and what’s historically a big advantage: His Boston Red Sox made the playoffs and also won 19 more games then Trout’s Los Angeles Angels.

But whaddya know! Turns out the Baseball Writers’ Association of America had a surprise in store. For the second time in his career, Trout is the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

And it wasn’t even close. Trout received 356 points to Betts’ 311 and Altuve’s 227. Trout also received 19 first-place votes to Betts’ nine and Altuve’s zero.

“It’s crazy,” the 25-year-old said on MLB Network, via Austin Laymance of MLB.com. “Can’t take anything away from Mookie and Jose Altuve, great guys, great team guys. I’m speechless, man.”

The Houston Astros would have struggled to get to even 84 wins without Altuve. The tiny-yet-fierce second baseman won the AL batting title with his .338 average and also chipped in 24 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

Likewise, the Red Sox would have been a lot worse without Betts’ .897 OPS, 31 homers and 26 steals. This is not to mention the defense he played in right field, which earned him a Gold Glove and more defensive runs saved than any other defender.

With respect to Altuve, it’s Betts’ performance that stands out. And the fact it was all in service of a winning team would have earned him some hardware on Thursday under normal circumstances.

You know, the same circumstances that contributed to Trout’s falling short in 2012, 2013 and 2015. The circumstances that said, “Sorry, dude. You’re really good, but your team missed the playoffs.”

This year, the writers flipped the script and chose circumstances many have been begging them to choose for the last five years: All that matters is who’s the best.

Because this is an article in honor of Trout’s value, here are the three letters you’ve been expecting: W-A-R. 

Yeah, it just wouldn’t be a proper AL MVP discussion without referencing Trout’s value as measured by wins above replacement. And whether you prefer the Baseball-Reference.comFanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus version, he easily topped both of his competitors:

Betts and Altuve shouldn’t feel bad. Everyone else in the AL finished behind Trout in WAR this year too. That’s the way it’s been for five seasons now.

And no, that’s not normal. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Trout’s five straight seasons leading the AL in WAR is the longest stretch since a fella named Babe Ruth back in the 1920s and ’30s. There’s your daily reminder that when it comes to Trout and WAR, the most relevant names are typically legendary ones.

WAR, of course, is a convoluted stat. But as a measure of all-around value, it usually has the right idea. 

Trout was a monster at the plate in 2016. He hit .315 with 29 home runs and a .991 OPS. He led all of baseball with his .441 on-base percentage and his 174 OPS+, which adjusts his OPS in part to account for the huge dimensions of Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

After a couple of down seasons, Trout also got back to being a monster on the bases. He swiped 30 bases after stealing just 27 in the last two seasons combined and finished barely behind Betts for the MLB lead in total baserunning value.

On defense, the advanced metrics rated Trout’s play in center field as somewhere between acceptable (minus-0.3 UZR) and quite good (six DRS). Given that center field is more difficult and more important than left field and right field, even merely acceptable center field defense is welcomed.

Trout has offered nits to pick in past seasons. In 2014, he struck out too much. Last season, his already declining baserunning got especially mediocre. Et cetera.

But in 2016? A guy who was already regarded as the best player in baseball turned in arguably his best season yet. The best got even better.

The only reason to deny Trout the MVP was the one most everyone expected to be used against him: He didn’t play for a winning team. This is true. The Angels won just 74 games, and even that seems like a lot for a team that was a ghostly shimmer outside of Trout.

But as Dayn Perry did a wonderful job of breaking down at CBSSports.com, the notion that MVPs must come from winning teams is manufactured. The voting guidelines mention no such thing, nor are there any ambiguous hints toward such a guideline. The only thing ambiguous is how to define “valuable.”

If we’re being fair, that means voters need not consider only WAR and its assorted parameters when weighing MVP options. It would be perfectly reasonable, for example, to make a case for why Betts deserved extra consideration over Trout because of how he specifically helped the Red Sox get to 93 wins and into the postseason.

Thing is: That case doesn’t exist.

You could make the case that Betts pushed the Red Sox into the playoffs when it mattered most in September. But he didn’t. His OPS in the season’s final month was just .762. Among the many players who outperformed him was Trout, who had a .948 OPS.

You could also make the case that Betts had a lot of clutch hits throughout the year. But he didn’t do that either. He had a .907 OPS in high-leverage situations. That landed far short of the MLB leader in that category.

Who, by the way, was Mike Trout.

His upset on Thursday is therefore of the pleasant variety. This is not a case of the MVP going to the best player who also had X, Y and Z. It’s a case of it going to the best player, period.

What a concept! What’s say we try it again sometime?


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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MLB MVP 2016: AL and NL Award Winners, Voting Results and Reaction

Capping a memorable awards season Thursday, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs took home American League and National League MVP honors, respectively.

Even though Trout has been the best player in baseball since 2012, his MVP candidacy this year was far from a lock, since writers have ignored players whose teams missed the playoffs in the past.

Bryant was the heavy favorite in the NL after leading the Cubs to the NL Central title and solidifying his standing as one of the best young stars in Major League Baseball.

Here’s how the final voting for this year’s MVP awards played out, per the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:

The BBWAA chose Bryant over Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals, making Bryant the first Cubs player to be named the MVP since Sammy Sosa in 1998.

Bryant followed up his stellar NL Rookie of the Year campaign by getting better in virtually every category this season.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Cubs superstar satisfied all of the statistical measurements for voters old and new:

The 24-year-old’s MVP win also puts him in exclusive territory as the fourth player in MLB history to take home the honor one year after being named the Rookie of the Year. Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (2007-08) was the last to accomplish the feat.

Coming into spring training, Cubs manager Joe Maddon told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com about conversations he had with Bryant last year, when the third baseman was briefly sent down to Triple-A to start the season:

I was confident he would respond well. We had some good conversations, me and him, in the office — very candid, frank, open, all of the above. I got a good feel from him. He was very self-confident. He was disappointed he was not starting with us but had the team goals in mind.

He was straight up with me and looked me right in the eye balls [saying he belonged in big leagues] and I don’t blame him. When he got up here, he showed it was true.

It was immediately true, yet Bryant found new ways to improve his game in 2016. The biggest adjustment was changing his swing slightly so he wasn’t hitting at a steep upward angle, which can help generate power but also lead to high strikeout totals.

Bryant’s strikeout percentage went from 30.6 in 2015 to 22.0 in 2016, per FanGraphs. By making more contact, the 24-year-old increased his home run total from 26 to 39 and went from a .488 slugging percentage to .554.

On Thursday’s MLB Network broadcast (via Muskat), Bryant said, “You can’t put into words what this means.”

Christopher Kamka of CSN Chicago noted the list of accolades Bryant has racked up over the last three years, dating back to his final college season:

If that’s not enough, Bryant will start 2017 by getting married in January. That’s not a bad run for the 24-year-old sensation.

Switching to the AL, Trout remains the best player in baseball. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Angels all-world star has had a five-year run fans haven’t seen since Babe Ruth:

WAR isn’t the be-all, end-all stat by which to determine an MVP, but it does provide a good jumping-off point. Trout finished one full win ahead of Bryant in the category and 1.6 wins ahead of Red Sox star Mookie Betts, per FanGraphs.

That’s not criticism of Betts or Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the other AL MVP finalists, because both players were fantastic in their own right. It’s just a bad time to be an AL player if you want to be in the mix for the top spot.

Per SportsCenter, Trout’s name now sits alongside Barry Bonds in MLB history:

After being announced as the AL MVP, the 25-year-old didn’t know what to say, per MLB Network PR: “I was surprised. … I’m speechless, man.”

Of course, the anti-playoff backlash for Trout was inevitable, per Tony Massarotti of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports had some fun with Trout’s win by invoking a notable Twitter incident after Wednesday’s AL Cy Young voting:

ESPN’s Buster Olney provided this incredible stat:

There’s no way to argue against Trout. The only knock anyone could try to present against him is that the Angels went 74-88, but you can’t punish an individual player for the lack of talent around him.

The BBWAA gets a bad rap for some of its antiquated thinking, though there has been a clear shift in recent years.

Trout and Bryant were the two best players in MLB, and they deserved to be rewarded for their efforts.

The pressure is on for 2017, though Trout and Bryant have shown in their young careers there is no ceiling to what they are capable of doing on the baseball field.

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Mike Trout Wins 2016 AL MVP Award: Voting Results and Comments

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was named the American League MVP on Thursday, for the second time in three years.

Baseball Writers’ Association of America shared the news and final voting tallies:

Trout discussed his victory, per MLB Network PR: “I was surprised. … I’m speechless, man.”

This marks Trout’s fifth consecutive year as an AL MVP finalist, which is a huge accomplishment that Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times attempted to put into perspective:

Aside from 2014, Trout had three second-place finishes, including last season. While Trout’s power took a dip in 2016, he made strides in essentially all other areas.

The 25-year-old superstar hit .315 with 29 home runs, 100 RBI, 30 stolen bases and an American League-leading 123 runs scored.

Per MLB Stat of the Day, Trout did something that hadn’t been accomplished in the AL in more than two decades:

While Trout received stiff competition from Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, the stats suggest Trout was far and away the best player in the American League in 2016.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Trout led the AL with 10.6 wins above replacement, which beat out Betts’ 9.6 and Altuve’s 7.7.

In addition to his power and speed on the basepaths, Trout played high-quality defense, as evidenced by his defensive runs saved above average of six, per Baseball-Reference.com.

There are few five-tool players in Major League Baseball, but Trout is chief among them and has been since his rookie season in 2012.

Trout has been an All-Star and MVP finalist in all five of his full MLB seasons to this point, and while the Angels had a disappointing 74-88 campaign in 2016, his performance was transcendent enough to overcome that and net the second MVP award of his career.


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Mike Trout Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Shoulder and Return

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout left Wednesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics with an injury after being hit by a pitch. However, he is not expected to miss game time.

Continue for updates.

Trout Comments on Playing Status

Thursday, Sept. 29 

Trout told reporters he hopes to play on Friday, after X-rays on his shoulder were negative.  

Scioscia Comments on Trout’s Timeline

Thursday, Sept. 29

Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced that Trout is expected to be play against the Houston Astros on Friday, according to the Orange County Register‘s Jeff Fletcher. The Angels have Thursday off.

Trout in ‘Significant Pain’

Wednesday, Sept. 28

Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times said, “Trout was just nailed in the left shoulder by a 96 mph John Axford fastball. He’s in significant pain and being examined by the trainer.”

Trout’s Stats and Accomplishments

As of Wednesday, Trout was slashing .318/.441/.556 with 29 home runs, 99 RBI and 27 stolen bases. 

He is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year and 2014 American League MVP. He also finished as the runner-up in MVP voting in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Trout drilled 41 home runs last year, tallied 111 RBI in 2014 and demonstrated his speed in 2012 with 49 stolen bases.

If Trout misses any time, Nick Buss or Shane Robinson will likely see action it center field for the 72-87 Angels.

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Mike Trout Uninjured in Highway Car Crash Following Reds vs. Angels

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was uninjured after being involved in a car accident following Wednesday’s 3-0 home win over the Cincinnati Reds.

“I have spoken with Mike this evening, and he feels fine. He is at home with his roommate and is planning on traveling with the club to Seattle tomorrow afternoon. We will update as more information becomes available,” Angels general manger Billy Eppler said in a statement.

A 27-year-old woman was sent to the hospital as a result of the crash, according to Scott Schwebke of the Orange County Register. Emergency personnel needed to use the Jaws of Life to remove one person from their vehicle. The extent of that person’s injuries are unknown at this time.

Trout said he felt fine on Friday, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. 

“It was scary,” Trout said, per Fletcher. “It could have been a lot worse.” 

The California Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the crash, which happened at 8:50 p.m. PT. CBS Los Angeles captured a photo of Trout, seemingly uninjured, speaking with a police officer at the scene:

Trout, 25, it hitting .319/.436/.562 with 25 home runs and 84 runs batted in this season. The Angels have an off day Thursday before playing the Seattle Mariners on Friday. Sitting well out of playoff contention at 59-74, the team will likely proceed with caution if Trout has any problems after the accident.


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Mike Trout Blockbuster Trade Is Impossible Call Angels Must Make

It’s the decision the Los Angeles Angels don’t want to make. And by golly, it’s the kind of decision no team should ever have to make.

But whether the Angels like it or not, trading Mike Trout continues to look less like the nuclear option and more like the only option.

Trout is still the Angels’ best player. The 24-year-old has a .929 OPS, 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases, and has garnished it with solid defense in center field. Both Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs put him among baseball’s best position players.

By now, noting as much is like noting water is wet or Brad Pitt is handsome. Trout has rarely not been stupendous since emerging as a perennial MVP candidate in 2012. It can’t be said enough that we’re watching possibly the best young player in baseball history.

That’s not the kind of guy whose name should ever come close to the trading block. And for now, the party line is that it won’t.

“We have no intent or desire to consider moving Mike Trout,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports last month. “He’s not moving. He’s an impact player, a huge piece in a championship core.”

Eppler could also have pointed out that nothing is threatening to take Trout away, as his contract runs through 2020. The hole in Eppler‘s logic, however, has to do with the “championship core” thing. 

The Angels have dug themselves a hole with a 31-41 record, and there’s not going to be any climbing out of it. Trout and Kole Calhoun are the only impact hitters in an offense that ranks 11th in the American League in OPS. And with Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Wilson and Tyler Skaggs all sidelined with arm and shoulder injuries, it’ll be tough to fix a pitching staff that ranks 12th in the AL in ERA.

This makes 2016 a lost year, but the worry now should be whether it’ll be a one-off or something worse. It’s easy to see how screwed the Angels are now, but it says a lot that it’s just as easy to see how screwed they are later.

A championship core usually consists of young, talented and healthy players who are in their prime and controlled for the long haul. On the Angels, that’s a small club. There’s Trout and the 28-year-old Calhoun, but who else? Albert Pujols, 36, is old and worse than ever. Andrelton Simmons can only field the ball. Matt Shoemaker has been on a nice run, but he’ll be 30 before the year is out.

The only way the Angels will acquire a championship core in the near future is by buying one or making their own. In the remaining years of Trout’s contract, they’ll be in a position to do neither.

The Angels have Wilson and Jered Weaver and their $40 million in salaries coming off the books this winter. But with the free-agent class due to be one of the worst in recent memory, there won’t be any good places to put that money.

The best chance the Angels will get to reload in free agency is after 2018. That’s when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey are due to headline possibly the best class of free agents in history.

But starting in 2019, the Angels will be on the hook to pay $75.1 million to Trout, Pujols and Simmons alone. Factor in Calhoun’s arbitration payday, and they’ll have close to $100 million invested in only four players. That doesn’t leave much room for big spending.

Meanwhile, the cavalry will not be coming from the farm.

This is the second year out of three that Baseball America rated the Angels’ system as the worst in baseball. Keith Law of ESPN.com concurred and provided the apparent origin of this conversation: “[The Angels] need a big draft this year to start to restock the system or we’re going to start talking about whether it’s time to trade Mike Trout.”

A big draft did not happen. The Angels only had two picks on Day 1, and they reached with the first of those when they chose Virginia catcher Matt Thaiss at No. 16. That landed them on my list of draft losers.

When a team is damaged both up top and underneath as badly as the Angels are, breaking up the whole damn thing and starting from scratch is the only way forward. To this end, trading Trout would be one hell of a first step.

The fact that Trout is owed a little over $120 million over the next four seasons complicates his trade value somewhat, but not too much. That’s going to be a significant underpay if he continues to perform like the best player in baseball, as his talent and youth suggest he should.

In theory, the Angels could look to unload Trout’s remaining contract while also demanding a big haul of young talent. One general manager suggested a likely asking price of “three to five potential impact players” to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. That sounds about right.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that a haul of “potential impact players” will equal one Trout. Shaikin pointed to the infamous Miguel Cabrera trade as an example of what can go wrong. He also noted that, in general, prized prospects don’t always turn out to be prized major leaguers.

However, skepticism like this has become dated.

If it feels like young players rule the modern baseball world, it’s because they do. Rob Arthur noted at FiveThirtyEight last year that the average age of baseball’s biggest stars has been trending downward for years. Trout has done his part, and he’s not alone.

Besides, who says the Angels need to get only prospects in a Trout trade? He’s good enough for L.A. to demand an established young star to take his place. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe floated names like Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, George Springer, Nomar Mazara and Kyle Schwarber as he was pondering potential deals for Trout. None of those are preposterous suggestions.

After landing a player like that, the Angels could still demand a couple of top prospects on the side. Getting them would help put their farm system on the right track.

And though there may be no guarantee of a strong farm system leading to long-term success at the major league level, the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros and New York Mets can all vouch for the value of a strong system. Before long, the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves should be able to as well. 

If anything, the more pressing question is how many teams can and would pull off such a huge trade. In all likelihood, the list is too short for a deal to happen this summer, when contenders will mostly be looking to fill holes rather than overhaul their depth charts.

The winter could be a different story, though. Contenders and rebuilders alike will be in better positions to focus on their long-term goals, increasing the number of teams that could turn to Trout. And with little impact talent available on the open market, Trout’s sticker price could look more reasonable over time.

Nobody thought we’d be having this discussion as recently as 2014, a year in which the Angels extended Trout in the spring and then rode 98 wins into October. But courtesy of their assorted failures and bad breaks, here we are. And courtesy of those same failures and bad breaks, it’s a discussion that isn’t likely to go away if they ignore it.

The Angels won’t soon forget their time with Trout. But before long, it’ll be time to move on.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Mike Trout Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Thumb and Return

Superstar Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout suffered an injury to his right thumb in the top of the eighth inning Sunday against the Cleveland Indians and was removed from the game.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reported later on Sunday Trout had a right thumb contusion, and X-rays came back negative. However, he would not miss any additional time. 

Continue for updates. 

Trout Active vs. Twins

Monday, June 13

Trout was in Monday’s lineup against the Minnesota Twins, batting third as the team’s designated hitter, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

Trout Remains One of MLB’s Premier Players

Trout’s credentials through his first four seasons speak for themselves. He’s a rare talent who is capable of doing anything on the diamond, leading the American League in runs scored three times, stolen bases, walks and slugging percentage once and hitting a career-high 41 homers in 2015. 

Aside from being ridiculously talented, Trout has been able to finish in the top two for American League MVP voting every year from 2012-15 because of his durability. The 24-year-old has only missed 13 games since 2013 and has never been on the disabled list. 

One issue for the Angels this season is depth. Their farm system is widely regarded as the worst in Major League Baseball, with ESPN Insider Keith Law calling it “by far the worst system I’ve ever seen” in his eight years of doing team rankings. 

The Angels have already lost starting pitchers Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards to serious arm problems that could prevent both from appearing again this season. 

Even though the Angels are trying to win now, they don’t have the luxury of replacing potentially injured stars with any kind of impact player. No one outside of Bryce Harper is capable of matching what Trout can do anyway, so his absence would have been disastrous. 

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Clayton Kershaw vs. Mike Trout Is What Makes MLB Interleague Worth It

Many will say interleague play in Major League Baseball has lost its luster, but it still has at least one gift to give every year.

It’s an annual showdown of epic proportions, and the time has come for it to be renewed in 2016: Clayton Kershaw vs. Mike Trout.

Their matchup gets top billing for Tuesday night’s tilt between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. And on paper, the fourth meeting between Kershaw and Trout is just as worthy of a Mr. Burns “Excellent…” as the first three.

Kershaw is reveling in his usual Kershaw-ian dominance. The three-time Cy Young winner’s 1.74 ERA isn’t the best in the league, but nobody comes close to his 77-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Under these circumstances, Vin Scully is forgiven for mistaking the 28-year-old southpaw for Sandy Koufax.

With a .962 OPS and eight home runs, Trout is also abiding by his reputation. Even when Bryce Harper was challenging Trout for the “Best Player in Baseball” crown, Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight wrote that Trout still ruled. And with teams now basically refusing to let Harper tap into his immense talent, Trout’s position atop the “Best Player in Baseball” throne looks even safer.

There was little doubt Trout was the best when he and Kershaw first met in 2014. Trout was on his way to his first American League MVP after arguably getting robbed in 2012 and 2013, and he added to his legend by singling and doubling in his first two at-bats against Kershaw.

“It’s always fun, going against the best,” Trout said of Kershaw afterward, per Lyle Spencer of MLB.com. “He’s a good person, and he battles out there. He’s a competitor. I love battling guys like that.”

But in their meetings since then, what Trout has had can’t be described as “fun.”

In seven of the last nine regular-season plate appearances Trout has against Kershaw, the 24-year-old center fielder has gone hitless and struck out three times. One of those punch-outs involved Kershaw’s famed Uncle Charlie turning Trout into a statue in their first meeting of 2015:

Modern times being what they are, narratives must flow like spice on the planet Dune. In this case, 2014 brought the “what will happen?!” appeal of the first-ever meeting between the sport’s best pitcher and best player. In 2015, it was the first time two reigning MVPs had ever faced off. Now in 2016, Trout has a score to settle.

How will that pan out? We’ll find out Tuesday night.

In the meantime, the only thing to do is recognize just how darn cool it is that we find ourselves breathing heavy in anticipation once again.

Interleague play’s faults are extensive. It makes scheduling a nightmare. For every cool regional matchupi.e., New York’s Subway Series, Chicago’s Windy City Showdown or, yes, Southern California’s Freeway Series—there are always random matchups that nobody cares about. And now that interleague play is a yearlong presence, having to switch between American League rules and National League rules has gone from cool novelty to frequent frustration.

Kershaw vs. Trout matchups, however, are to interleague play what marshmallows are to a bowl of Lucky Charms: tasty morsels good enough to make the whole thing worth it.

The essential gimmick of interleague play is creating matchups that would otherwise have a hard time coming to fruition. The Kershaw vs. Trout rivalry is a reminder that this is just as true on a player vs. player level as it is on the team vs. team level. Without interleague play, meaningful matchups between them could only happen in the All-Star Game or the World Series.

In the many years before interleague play arrived in 1997, that arrangement limited or prevented dream pitcher vs. hitter matchups. Ty Cobb never faced Christy Mathewson. Babe Ruth never faced Dazzy Vance. Ted Williams faced Warren Spahn only five times—all in All-Star Games. Mickey Mantle faced Sandy Koufax only eight times—all in the World Series. Bob Gibson and Carl Yastrzemski butted heads 13 times in 1967 between the All-Star Game and the World Series, but only three more times after that.

Kershaw and Trout have already squared off more than Mantle and Koufax ever did and are going to do battle many more times than Yaz and Gibson in the long run. Without interleague play, the chance of this happening would be somewhere between slim and none.

With Trout’s Angels badly damaged by injuries and one bad contract, it’s unlikely he and Kershaw will be meeting in the World Series anytime soon. And though they’ve already met twice in All-Star Games, the need for All-Star managers to make substitutions about as frequently as Aroldis Chapman fires 100 mph fastballs means that number might not climb much higher.

Of course, you can argue that Trout and Kershaw only meeting in the All-Star Game or the World Series would be appropriate, as those are the only baseball stages with spotlights big enough for the two of them. Instead, being able to count on them facing each other year after year thanks to interleague play arguably diminishes the grandeur of it. Less is more, et cetera.

But if you’ll permit me to yell from my porch at any ungrateful so-and-sos out there, there are exceptions to the ol’ “too much of a good thing” rule. If ever there was an appropriate embodiment of this notion, it’s Kershaw vs. Trout showdowns.

Going back to 2012, Kershaw has been baseball’s best pitcher and Trout has been baseball’s best position player. To this extent, there’s no better matchup of modern-day titans than this one. This is baseball’s answer to Iron Man vs. Captain America.

But really, what’s recent baseball history when compared to all of baseball history? Trout might be the best young player baseball has ever seen. Kershaw is one of the best young pitchers baseball has ever seen.

As such, even calling their rivalry a once-in-a-generation thing feels like selling it short. Theirs is the kind of rivalry that all generations wish for. That today’s generation actually has one is worth celebrating.

Let us not take neither the latest Kershaw vs. Trout showdown nor any more to come for granted. Rather, let us take as much as we can get and ask for more.

For that, interleague play will keep delivering. It’s not good for much, but at least it’s good for that.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Mike Trout Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Angels Star

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout has heard the speculation that his team may need to trade him, but he’s not buying it.

Continue for updates. 

Trout Not Buying Trade Speculation

Thursday, May 12

Speaking to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, Trout explained his reaction to any talk of a trade: “I just laugh about it. I love where I’m at. I love Anaheim, the stadium, the organization and obviously the teammates. Teams go through injuries. That’s the way it is.”

It’s worth noting the Angels have never said they are thinking about dealing Trout. Speculation arose last week when some analysts, like FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron, broached the topic in light of the injury to Los Angeles ace Garrett Richards:

Trading Mike Trout would not only bring back an incredible return in young talent — imagine the package the Dodgers could put together — but would also allow the team to admit that it’s time to pivot, focusing on loading up with as many young players as possible, spending big on international free agency and the draft instead of throwing $15 to $20 million at another pitcher at the end of his career who might not be good enough to help anyway.

In theory, the Angels would have valid reasons to consider trading Trout. Injuries have hurt the team already this season.

Richards likely needs Tommy John surgery, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Andrew Heaney is on the 60-day disabled list, C.J. Wilson hasn’t pitched this season with a shoulder injury and Andrelton Simmons is expected to miss two months after undergoing thumb surgery.

They are in an awful position with horrible contracts—Albert Pujols is owed $165 million from 2016 to 2021, per Spotrac—and no farm system to help out. ESPN.com’s Keith Law wrote the Angels had “by far the worst system I’ve ever seen” in the eight years he has been ranking minor league talent.

All of those factors paint a bleak picture of what the future looks like in Los Angeles. Trout is the one trump card the Angels have. He’s 24 years old, signed through 2020 and should be able to hold his MVP-level performance for the duration of his contract.

Trout is the kind of player every franchise wants to build around, but if there is no one else to help him, his skills are being wasted on a team going nowhere.

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Mike Trout Trade Speculation Shot Down by Angels GM

Don’t expect the Los Angeles Angels to trade Mike Trout anytime soon, if ever.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Friday that despite losing starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney possibly for the year, he will not trade the former American League Most Valuable Player for prospects.

“We have no intent or desire to consider moving Mike Trout—he’s not moving,” Eppler said, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. “He’s an impact player, a huge piece in a championship core.”

Trout signed a six-year extension worth $144.5 million in March 2014 prior to his fourth big league season. The four-time All-Star also has a no-trade clause in his contract, per Rosenthal, so he could decline any trade even if the Angels wanted to move him.

Los Angeles (13-15) entered Friday in third place in the American League West behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Tommy John surgery may soon be on the horizon for Richards, per ESPN.com’s Michael Eaves, and Heaney has a torn ulnar collateral ligament, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

The Angels are in need of pitching depth, but they also need help with their farm system. Baseball America ranked them dead last in terms of minor league talentthe third year in a row they’ve ranked 27th or below.

“This team was up against a lot of adversity last year and fought to the end,” Eppler said, per Rosenthal. “We’ve got a lot of character, a lot of the same guys on the club. They will not back down from a fight.”

Trout is on his way to his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance. He came into Friday batting .317 with seven home runs. His talent at the plate and in center field doesn’t come around often. While Trout would bring in a major haul in return, the situation would need to get much worse for the Angels to even entertain the thought of trading him.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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