The legend of Mike Trout grows — ROY and MVP worthy?
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American League catchers may resort to hiding kryptonite in their pockets when Mike Trout comes to bat. There doesn’t seem to be any other way on this planet to stop the runaway Rookie of the Year and emerging frontrunner for AL MVP. After another amazing performance on Wednesday, including going 4-for-5 at the dish with three runs and an RBI, Trout is now leading the league with a .344 batting average.
He also had a pretty nice catch.
Playing in Baltimore in front of family and friends, Trout robbed J.J. Hardy of a home run in the bottom of the first inning. Some are calling it the catch of the year, others are calling it just another routine play for “Trouty.” Teammate, and nine-time Gold Glove winner, Torii Hunter, said it was the best catch he had ever seen with his eyes. The usually reserved Trout gave his chest a little pound and gave a big smile after the catch, showing the enthusiasm he has injected into the Angels this season.
On April 27, the Angels were sitting at 8-14, looking up at everyone in the AL West. After an offseason spending spree of more than $300MM that included locking up three-time MVP Albert Pujols for 10 years/$240MM, and 2011 All-Star C.J. Wilson for five years/$77.5MM, expectations were extremely high. With a now-loaded offense to go along with a scary rotation that included Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, the Angels were expected to win the West over the the two-time defending AL champ Texas Rangers.
Pujols struggled mightily out of the gate, hitting .214 with no home runs and four RBI in April. Vernon Wells also struggled, hitting just .225 with four home runs and eight RBI in April, and the team couldn’t catch a break as their offense was stagnant. Over those 22 games, they were shutout four times, scored three runs or less 13 times and lost six games by one run.
The team’s payroll was $154MM coming into the 2012 season, fourth highest in baseball behind the Yankees ($198MM), Phillies ($175MM) and Red Sox ($173MM). Who knew their savior would be a 20-year old rookie making $414,000 dollars?
Trout has been the answer for the Angels. His extreme confidence in his abilities has made him exceed expectations at every level. In high school, he flew under the radar most of his career. Playing baseball in New Jersey can be a death sentence at times. Unlike year-round warm weather areas like Florida, California, Georgia and Texas, the Northeast doesn’t get a whole lot of attention as far as scouting goes. He set a New Jersey state record with 18 home runs his senior year and the right people knew who he was, they just weren’t sure how his game would translate considering he wasn’t facing the same level of competition as most of the other high-level prospects. When they wouldn’t come to him, he went to them, flying across the country to work out for teams in preparation for the 2009 MLB draft.
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