With a third straight season heading toward some level of peril, Mike Trout’s prime is wasted and it’s no longer the Angels’ fault.
For years, the Los Angeles Angels made ill-advised moves that kept them from surrounding Mike Trout with talent to foster team success. The effort was made, the moves just largely didn’t work. So baseball’s best player for a long stretch of years has played in one playoff series in his career, and that was in 2014.
The Angels have finished above fourth in the AL West once in the last six seasons, and they haven’t finished above .500 since 2015. All the while, Trout was producing at a high level and advancing through his peak years.
Just before the start of the 2019 season, the Angels signed Trout to a 12-year contract worth $426.5 million. He’s under contract through 2030, his age-39 season.
Outside of his evaporating stolen base numbers, Trout has remained a productive the last couple seasons and it’s unlikely he’ll become dead weight as he advances through his 30s. But his absolute best days are probably gone.
Trout, like most players, came out against Manfred and the owners’ negotiating techniques. He’s willing to pay the price of missed games and lost income.
Mike Trout’s prime is wasted, and it’s no longer the Angels’ fault
In 2020, when baseball could have monopolized the American sports world with no other leagues going on or in-season, they finally got it together and played a 60-game season. Trout hit 17 home runs and posted a .993 OPS in 53 games, as the Angels finished 26-34.
Last season Trout started off on a tear, with a .333/.466/.624 slash-line (1.090 OPS) with eight home runs and 18 RBI over his first 36 games. But he did not play after May 17, as a serious calf injury cost him the rest of the season.
Now, MLB locked out the players in early December and with no labor deal done earlier this week the first two 2022 regular season series for each team have been canceled. That may only be the tip of the iceberg, with a months-long stalemate possible and a very truncated season in play (let’s not entertain the idea of no 2022 season at all just yet).
With the COVID-19 pandemic shortening the 2020 season, an injury costing him most of 2021 and now the 2022 season already shortened due to a labor negotiation that’s gone nowhere, Mike Trout’s prime is all but gone. And after years of them being seen as the problem, wasting the best player in baseball’s prime years is no longer the Angels’ fault.