Los Angeles Angels: Missing the playoffs hurts Mike Trout the most

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 23: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at bat during the third inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 23: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at bat during the third inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. However, the best player in baseball may not even receive the American League MVP.

Mike Trout is a two-time American League MVP at 26 years old and yet still, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder should have more MVP hardware to his name.

Trout is notorious for coming up short in the MVP voting despite being the face of baseball and the best player of this generation. Trout is the type of talent that will be talked about in the record books for the next 100 years. He is our version of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Sandy Koufax.

He has finished second in MVP voting three times, one more time than he has won it. Two of those second-place finishes came behind Miguel Cabrera; Cabrera hit for the illustrious triple crown in 2013.

The other second-place finish came to Josh Donaldson, who had a great year, but likely received more votes since he led the Toronto Blue Jays to the postseason.

Last year, Trout was on pace to be the MVP before missing too much time because of a thumb injury. Trout played just 77 games (47.5 percent) and still finished fourth in MVP voting.

However, it has not been Trout’s health that has kept him out of winning the MVP. Instead, it has been the fact that the Los Angeles Angels have made the postseason just once (2014) since he has been a member of the team.

While making the postseason is not a requirement of winning the MVP, it is a pretty big factor. Recent winners such as Trout in 2016, Giancarlo Stanton in 2017 and Bryce Harper in 2015 have proven that trend wrong. Trout winning this year, if the Angels do miss out, would mark the third straight year such a selection happened.

Right now, the Los Angeles Angels are 41-37; 10.5 games out of the AL West lead and 6.0 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot.

However, the difference between those years and this year is that those years did not have a great second candidate to give the award to.

Last year Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs and drove in 132 RBIs, those are very hard numbers to ignore. So even though he was not on a playoff team, there really was no player on a playoff team to compare to Stanton in terms of MVP numbers.

Joey Votto, who also was not on a playoff team, finished second in the voting, losing out by just two points (one more MVP vote would have had him win by three points). Votto had a great season, hitting .320 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Paul Goldschmidt finished in third and was the only finalist on a playoff team. He had a great year, just did not come close to Stanton and Votto with a .297 batting average and 36 home runs. He finished 63 points behind.

This is true of every other instance of this happening. In 2016, Mookie Betts finished second behind Trout and he was on a playoff team. And while he had a great year, he still finished with an OPS nearly 100 points lower than Trout. He fell 45 points short of the award.

In 2015 there really was no playoff hitter to choose from as all three finalists were part of non-playoff teams. However, even if there were, Bryce Harper had one of the best seasons of the last decade, so it was going to be hard to take that away from him.

The point is that these non-playoff winners are separating themselves from the pack to win the award. However, when choosing between two similar players (one in the playoffs and one not) the playoff player is going to get the nod most of the time.

Look at Trout’s second-place finish to Josh Donaldson in 2015 as the perfect example. Trout had a better batting average, better on-base percentage, better slugging percentage, the same amount of home runs, more walks and more stolen bases.

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Donaldson had more hits, runs and RBIs in more at-bats, because ya know, his team being better allowed him to get to the plate more. Trout actually played one more game than Donaldson that season, so Donaldson getting more opportunities solely was due to the team around him.

Donaldson was able to at least keep up with Trout to force that discussion. When that discussion is being made, it always sways towards playoff teams. That is why Donaldson got 23 of the 30 first-place votes.

This year is another case of that. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have made it very close with Trout in terms of offensive production. Both play on the playoff-bound Boston Red Sox.

There is also the likes of Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve lurking around the corner as well. Quite frankly, there is so much MVP-caliber talent in the American League, on playoff teams, that the spotlight does not get shined on Mike Trout.

Next: Dodgers must pursue Manny Machado

If the Los Angeles Angels make the postseason, Mike Trout will be the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player. If not, expect a different name to be called.