Mike Trout's Major League debut gave us a quick glimpse of the legend to come
We've been out of unique ways to sum up Mike Trout's historic awesomeness for a while now. He's been the best player in baseball more or less since he entered the Majors. He was an All-Star by age 20. He was an American League MVP Award winner by 22. He passed Vladimir Guerrero in career WAR by 26 (seriously). When Trout done, he'll be the next Aaron or Ruth or Mays, the one whose career you'll tell your kids and grandkids about -- and eight years ago today, that career officially began.
The Angels took Trout 25th overall in the 2009 Draft, and he spent the next two years tearing up the Minor Leagues and becoming one of the most highly-touted prospects in baseball. On July 8, just a game back of the Rangers in the AL West, the team decided to call in the cavalry, starting the 19-year-old in center field and batting him ninth.
It wasn't the most auspicious debut: Trout finished 0-for-3 on the night -- he hit just .220/.281/.390 over 40 games that year, but hey, he was only 19 -- and flew out to right in his first career at-bat.
As the night went on, though, we got a small peek at the player he'd become. His final at-bat ended in a scorching liner to center that hung up just long enough to be caught. And with the game tied with two outs in the top of the ninth, Franklin Gutierrez lifted a fly ball deep into the gap in right-center -- giving Trout the opportunity to get on his horse:
Trout took away what would have been at least a double, and Mark Trumbo led off the bottom half with a walk-off dinger. Trout's been helping them win games ever since.