Mike Trout is often referred to as “the best player in baseball,” but there was a time when I believed the Angels should trade him. I no longer hold that belief, and I respect them even more for proving me wrong.
I’ve never really been an Angels fan, at least not a true, faithful Angels fan. I’ve never seen a game at Angel Stadium. Growing up, my mind was focussed on the Dodgers, and it rarely wandered. Then, I started to listen a little more to the red and white down in Anaheim. I began to notice because Mike Trout, a player I had only heard about every now and then, was making the headlines.
So, when I finally looked up and saw the kind of player that Trout was, I started to see the Angels, too. In 2015, they ended the season in third place, with a record of 85-77. In 2016, they finished in fourth place, 21 games back from the dominant Texas Rangers. In 2017, they finished just shy of a wild-card spot but played in a division that was ruled by the Houston Astros.
Trout made his debut in July of 2011. Anaheim signed Albert Pujols the following offseason. Since then, the Angels haven’t stayed quiet, but they haven’t made a loud, lasting impact either. Not until now.
During the 2016 season, I believed the Angels should trade Mike Trout. I thought that they needed to rebuild. I thought that Mike Trout, a no-doubt Hall of Famer, should play on a team that would have a great shot at the postseason every year for the foreseeable future.
I thought about teams like the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Cubs; perennial contenders.
Mike Trout is a career .300+ hitter. He’s hit over 200 home runs while being well under the age of 30. He’s bound for the Hall of Fame, but I couldn’t help but wonder; would he go in wearing red and white?.
I thought the Angels should trade Trout because the kinds of players and prospects they’d receive in return would make them contenders for years to come.
Well, I believe those years have arrived, and Mike Trout is still in Anaheim. Billy Eppler and the Angels have proved me wrong.
The Angels played better baseball this season. They came within 5 games of the second AL Wild Card spot. The thing that makes me respect them though is this; they learned the same lesson that the Dodgers learned in 2016; they learned how to win without their star.
At the end of May, Trout injured his thumb sliding into second base on an attempted steal. After opting to have surgery, it was announced that he would miss 6-8 weeks. The Dodgers know a thing or two about having to go the summer without their best player. That summer, though, the Dodgers learned to play, and win, in spite of that absence. The Angels faced the same reality in 2017.
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During Trout’s injury, the Angels went 19-20 and maintained a fighting chance at the second wild-card spot. They faced the harsh reality that all teams have to come to terms with at some point; how do we win without our number one?
I don’t think the Angels fully figured it out last season, but their future sure looks bright.
The Angels proved me wrong by making a loud, lasting impact that I wouldn’t be able to overlook if I tried.
There was a time when I saw a Mike Trout trade as logical and beneficial. Now? Now even the idea of it makes me laugh.
The Angels are legitimate contenders. For now, it looks like a wild-card spot is their best shot at the postseason because the Astros show no signs of slowing down. A wild-card spot isn’t anything to be ashamed of, though, because it gets you into the postseason.
Even I, a faithful Dodger fan, get chills just thinking about a potential game 7 with Trout leading the charge from center-field.
It’s a reality that may be closer than we think.