I thought Trout Would Be Different. But So Far It Doesn’t Seem To Be The Case.
The LA Angels also experienced great frustration in the 2023 season. Failure to advance to the postseason was confirmed early on, and the end of the season is being spent in ‘reorganization’. Although my expectations and determination were higher than ever, the results were not satisfactory at all.
This year, which was the final season of Shohei Ohtani’s service time, the Angels were determined to make it to the postseason. Although they did not sweep away the ‘biggest names in the market’ in the free agent market, they strengthened their power through a busy winter. So we started the season with the goal of reaching the postseason with Ohtani and keeping Ohtani next year.
That dream still seemed realistic until early summer. Until the end of June, the Angels were in 2nd and 3rd place in the American League West, and although it was not perfect, they were generally cruising. However, the atmosphere changed from early July, and the winning percentage collapsed before the end of the first half of the year. At the end of July, the team regained its .500 win rate by gaining strength for a while, but it collapsed again in August, and they eventually announced that they would give up on the season and announced waivers for a large number of key players at the end of August.
There was an important incident in early July when the Angels’ mood was dampened. It’s Mike Trout’s injury. Trout, who had been the team’s centerpiece throughout the season, left on July 4 due to a hand injury. After Trout’s injury, the Angels lost most of their momentum in the rankings and sank. Trout briefly returned in late August and played in one game, but was injured again and was recently confirmed to be out for the season. In fact, Trout, who left the team at the end of the first half, played only 82 games, half of this season.
The Angels’ greatest strength is that they have both superstars Trout and Ohtani. However, with Trout leaving, the entire burden was placed on Ohtani, and the team eventually collapsed.
The problem is that this is not the first time Trout has been like this. Trout has been suffering from injuries for three consecutive years and has not been able to complete the required at-bats. The three years Trout struggled with injuries exactly coincided with the period when Ohtani made new baseball history with his perfect pitching. Even though the Angels have two superstars, they have never been able to use them fully together.
Trout was the undisputed best player. Trout, who debuted in the big leagues in 2011 and began his career in earnest with his rookie season in 2012, played in 1,159 games over eight years from 2012 to 2019, hitting .308/.422/.587, 280 home runs, 736 RBIs, and 196 stolen bases. Trout’s fWAR (Winnings Above Replacement Contribution) over 8 years was a whopping 70.6. This figure is almost twice as high as Buster Posey (retired, 47.0), who ranked second during that period.
During that period, Trout succeeded in winning MVP awards three times, including Rookie of the Year, and finished second in MVP four times. He was a Trout who had accumulated such incredible results that he was evaluated to be in the Hall of Fame after playing for just 10 years. The Angels gave Trout, who may be the best player in history, a 12-year, $426.5 million contract, the largest contract extension in history, ahead of the 2019 season. Trout, who won his third MVP award in the first year of his contract extension, seemed to be continuing his career as a top player.
However, Trout, who finished 5th in MVP voting, his lowest performance since his full-time debut in the shortened season, lost his health starting in the 2021 season and fell away from MVP. In the 2021 season, he played only 36 games, and last year, he appeared in 119 games and hit 40 home runs, ranking 8th in MVP voting, but failed to play at-bats in regulation. And he’s only played half the season this year.
The problem is that Trout has been suffering from major and minor injuries consistently since 2017 and is now in his 30s. Entering your 30s means that your physical abilities have begun to decline. This means that it is even possible to predict that Trout, who has been suffering from injuries since he was in his mid-20s, may find it more difficult to maintain his health in the future.
Since the concept of the aging curve was introduced, the major leagues have tended to not welcome long-term contracts with players in their 30s. This is because we already know from experience that it is difficult to consistently show the same performance in your 30s as you did in your 20s, when you were in your physical prime. The Angels have already experienced painful failure once in a historic long-term contract with a player in his 20s. This is Albert Pujols.
Despite Pujols’ case, the reason Trout was given the highest contract of all time was not only because Trout was a franchise star who symbolized the team, but also because there was an expectation that ‘Trout would be different’. However, Trout, who has now completed five years of his 12-year contract, is causing a different pain than Pujols. Pujols is healthy, but his grades are not good, and Trout is good, but rarely healthy.
In this situation, rumors emerged that the Angels were considering a trade for Trout. Trout, who has the right to veto trades against his former team, has indicated that he has no intention of leaving the team, and it appears that the rumors are just rumors. However, even if the Angels actually put Trout on the market, he will be a ‘glass body’ who will receive more than $37 million annually until 2030. ‘ It is difficult to say what market value the clubs would have placed on the player.
Ohtani will likely leave the Angels after the season, but Trout will remain. If Trout never regains his durability, the Angels may be in a situation where they feel like crying because they lost Pujols and Trout came back. Attention is being paid to whether Trout will be healthy next year.