Even Maddon in awe of Trout's greatness
This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
ANAHEIM -- Of all the things that stand out most for Angels superstar Mike Trout, it’s his consistent greatness.
He rarely slumps and always finishes with elite numbers, as the only thing that can keep him down is injuries like his torn left thumb ligament in '17, his nerve issue with his foot in '19 or his strained right calf that ended his season last year on May 17. It’s a reason why Trout finished in the Top 5 in the balloting for the American League MVP Award in nine straight years from 2012-20, including winning the award in 2014, '16 and '19.
Trout, 30, is again healthy this season and is showing why he’s long been considered the best player of his generation. He entered Tuesday’s series opener against the Rangers batting .323/.434/.699 with 12 homers, 12 doubles, 26 RBIs and an American League-leading 35 runs scored in 38 games. And his 2.9 wins above replacement ranks third in the Majors behind only the Padres' Manny Machado (3.5) and the Yankees' Aaron Judge (3.0), per FanGraphs.com.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said that Trout’s consistency and non-flashy mannerisms on the field can make it easy to take him for granted, but the skipper is still in awe of his greatness.
“He's got a low voltage and he's just there all the time and when you need him, he kind of pops up,” Maddon said. “It's great for the rest of the group. It's like a safety valve or guard that he's there. He's quietly having an outstanding year. People are talking like they always do but you start extrapolating out again what he's doing right now by the end of the season, I'll take it. But it's true and I've had other players like that where they quietly go about it and you look up and it's like, 'whoa' when you see their numbers up on the board."
The one number that Trout hasn’t added to his total this year is a stolen base. But Trout still ranks among the game’s fastest runners, as he’s tied for 12th in Statcast's sprint speed metric. Trout has seen his stolen base numbers decline in recent years, swiping just one bag in 53 games in '20 and two in 36 games last year. But Maddon said Trout has told coaches he'd like to start utilizing his speed on the bases more.
"He's very self-aware,” Maddon said. “He wants to run more, too. We've been looking for spots for him to go. So he's feeling good right now."