Is Trout still a 30-30 threat?
ANAHEIM -- When Monday came, it had been nearly a full month since Mike Trout had attempted a stolen base. He had been stuck on eight stolen bases for 28 days, putting him on pace for 19 and setting him up to barely eclipse his stunning career low from last season.
Trout's stolen bases have gone from 49 to 33 to 16 over the last three years, even though he's every bit the explosive athletic specimen he always has been. Is he simply settling into the 15- to 20-steals range, like so many of the great all-around players did when their power became more pronounced?
"Not really," Trout said prior to Monday's series opener with the Astros. "That's just how it's been the last couple weeks. I just haven't had a chance to go. Situations have been dictating that."
Trout brought up the fact that Albert Pujols has been swinging the bat well, making him less willing to risk getting thrown out or of setting up an intentional walk with first base open. Angels manager Mike Scioscia chalked it up, as usual, to how closely pitchers watch Trout and how much faster their times to home plate become when he's on first.
Several others believe it just isn't worth it for Trout to continue to try to steal 30 to 40 bases a year, even though he has the speed and the instincts to do it.
"He's a big boy, and stolen bases take a toll on your body," former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon said over the offseason.
"The quick start and stop, the impact of the slide, the collision with different infielders as you're sliding into bases and just the burst of speed that it takes to do that," general manager Jerry Dipoto said during Spring Training. "Mike can steal 100 bases if he wants to. But what does he have to give up to be that guy?"
Dipoto pointed to Hall of Fame outfielders Willie Mays and Andre Dawson as examples of great players who weaned off the steals as they became more prominent run producers. Trout -- batting .304/.386/.581, while on pace for 42 homers and 95 RBIs -- is definitely that, and he understands the wear and tear that comes with stolen bases.
"But I'm not just going to stop stealing," he said. "I'm still going to be aggressive, and when I get a chance, I'm going to go."
Dawson averaged 30 stolen bases in his first seven years and 13 in his next five; Mays averaged 28 in his first seven years and 12 in his next 11. But they were older when the drops occurred. Trout is still only 23 -- albeit with three full seasons already under his belt -- and very capable of being a 30-30 or even a 40-40 guy.
But is it worth it?
"That's going to be the question," Angels bench coach Dino Ebel said. "Big boys have done it before -- [Jose] Canseco, [Barry] Bonds. They've done it. I don't think you can do it five years in a row, but there can be a year when, boom, he busts out 40 [steals] and hits 40 homers. I think it's still in there. No doubt I think he's in there."