Mike Trout turns 29 today, and while this year hasn’t been the happiest, it is certainly meaningful to the new dad. The biggest change between 28-year old Trout and 29-year old Trout is that Mike is now a father. He and Jessica just brought a new son into the world, and this has to be life changing for Mike.
Trout, usually the joker and prankster, hasn’t really taken on an obvious leadership role in the past. Leading by example was what he was known for, and he kept to himself rather than promoting MLB, to the frustration of the league.
But now he seems to be embracing it. First, he actually called out the Astros, something the kind-hearted man never does. Next, he was the biggest proponent of the guidelines for COVID-19 safety in the clubhouse become actual rules. Maybe because Jessica was pregnant, Mike Trout was concerned about the guidelines MLB put in place and got the whole team to agree to be careful when traveling and to keep distance at the ballpark.
This attitude of safety is seen even in celebration. While the A’s treated everything like normal in their first win, when the Angels walked off, it was a “No touch” celebration. And now that Miami and St. Louis have many cases, Mike Trout wants more daily testing. Even though Manfred has made things stricter after this incident with new rules, they are basically what Mike Trout pushed the Angels to do.
He has been vocal and it might have kept the Angels mostly safe from the virus that has impacted other teams. Maybe the mindset is being pushed onto others in the region, as the WEST is doing well so far. Mike Trout has become not only someone to look up to in terms of stats but a real leader that perhaps changes how others behave.
Mike Trout is back after missing time to see his newborn son and now DAAAAAAD has dad strength to go along with it. Mike Trout simply has been impressive since 2012. According to JAWS, Trout is the 5th-best CF of all time, and doesn’t even have 10 full seasons under his belt. In fact, if he decided to just not play this season and stay with his kid and not play again, he couldn’t get in the HOF because he didn’t play 10 seasons. It is only now with some of 2020 counting that he could even appear on the ballot.
There isn’t much to say about Mike Trout that others have not already said. He is a HOF player already who has been pace-wise better than basically anyone in history. It is a shame that Mike Trout has a year of his prime cut short due to a pandemic, as now he has to play catch up with Ty Cobb on fWAR. This will impact his final numbers, sure, but a placement here or there is surely not something he cares too deeply about.
What is something that cannot be disputed is how much Mike Trout dominates the Angels franchise leaderboards. Mike Trout has the top 7 OPS+ seasons in Angels history and his 8th-best is tied with the best non-Trout season. There are really no other players that have this much franchise clout on any team in MLB. There is no peer because no one is close.
Before Mike Trout, the player with the most bWAR for the Angels was Chuck Finley at 51.8. That is decent, but that would rank the Angels at 26/30 in all of baseball if you compared everyone’s best against each other. These WARLORDS would be Hall of Fame players for the most part, but the Angels would only do better than the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Rays, and Marlins. As the Angels are the oldest expansion team in that list, that is pretty sad.
But factor in Mike Trout, and that number shoots up to 20 (as of now), and if 2020 was a full season, Mike Trout could have easily pushed the Angels to 13th. That would make Mike Trout a more valuable player for the Angels than Pete Rose was for the Reds or Tom Seaver was for the Mets. Beating Walter Johnson at 165.2 bWAR will take a miracle, but Mike Trout is at 73.1 as of now which is more than the Kid did in Seattle. Fitting as Trout is now DAAAAAAD.
This is why Mike Trout is the most important Angels player. It’s about respect. It’s about clout. Yes, the Angels won a WS, but people outside of Southern California do not care because 2002 will go down as one of the few World Series winning teams to have no HOF players. People talk about the 90’s Mariners more than the 2000’s Angels because of stuff like this. (Which is why Vlad going in as an Angel was so heartwarming.) This is a franchise that turns 60 next year. Having so few players and moments known or cared outside the fanbase is sad, but Mike Trout? Everyone knows Mike Trout within baseball and while he will be seen as “wasted” here, he will be known for being here and getting people to talk about the Angels.
Even though the Padres weren’t good, people still remember and are fond of Tony Gwynn. Ernie Banks is beloved even though the Cubs were terrible. The 2010’s wasn’t good for the Angels from a team perspective, but Mike Trout was there and decades from now, Mike Trout will be talked about as one of the greats. And because of that, because of Mike Trout, so will the Angels.
Being 29 means that his prime is now, and Arte Moreno needs to do something to get Mike Trout a ring. Hopefully with this expanded playoffs the Angels can squeak in, do something to start off this decade with a bang. Until the team is good, I can at least watch Mike Trout as he gobbles up all the franchise records. Even in this short season, 300 home runs is in sight. I wonder how that will go.
Here’s to many more years of playing baseball, Mike Trout. Hopefully you can celebrate with champagne this fall.