Angels superstar Mike Trout has found himself in yet another American League Most Valuable Player Award race, but he said Saturday that he hasn’t been paying much attention to it.
Trout, a three-time MVP, is looking to win the award for a second straight season, but he faces stern competition from others such as White Sox teammates Tim Anderson and José Abreu, Indians teammates Shane Bieber and José Ramirez, the Yankees’ duo of DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit and the Twins’ Nelson Cruz.
“Honestly, I haven’t really looked at it,” Trout said. “I'm just focusing on my routine every day. These last few games, just been fighting the timing a little bit, but trying to finish strong here.”
Trout, 28, entered Saturday ranked third in the AL in wins above replacement (WAR) with 2.4, trailing his teammate Anthony Rendon (2.6) and Ramirez (2.5), per Fangraphs. He was also tied for third with 16 homers and sat alone in third with 42 RBIs.
The Angels, though, are headed for another non-winning season, and while they’re not officially out of the postseason race, their chances remain remote. Trout said he’s unsure if the Halos' record will count against him. He won the award last year despite the Angels losing 90 games and Trout missing the last three weeks of the season after undergoing right foot surgery.
“It seems like every year they're saying that about the team's record. Obviously, I don't know,” Trout said. “Does a shortened season factor in? Maybe, I don't know. The two guys over in Chicago are having unbelievable seasons. They're fun to watch. Every time you turn them on, they're out there smiling and putting up big numbers. It's good to see.”
Trout added that the race has a different feel to it because of the shortened 60-game season, but he believes the stats and awards are legitimate this year. He just wishes the fans would’ve been able to be a part of it.
“It definitely feels different,” Trout said. “Just the whole season has been different for me -- no fans in the stadium, no atmosphere. It’s been the toughest adjustment for me. The interactions, the adrenaline, the atmosphere that brings the excitement, you come up to the plate in a big spot, there’s so much crowd noise that can pump you up, gets your blood pumping. It’s crazy to think of all the awards in a short season. It’s just been a weird year for us; for me, too.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon said he believes both Trout and Rendon deserve some MVP consideration and said he has been impressed with the way Trout has carried himself.
“The talent is prodigious,” Maddon said. “There's no question about that. And he does care, and he does work, and like I said, he's a great teammate. Game in progress, he's always supporting everybody else. That's the one thing that really stands out."
Upton out, Walsh starts in right field
First baseman Jared Walsh has been on fire this month, and in an effort to keep him in the lineup, he made his first Major League start in right field on Saturday. It allowed the Angels to start Albert Pujols at first base and get Shohei Ohtani back in the lineup at designated hitter for the first time since Sept. 11. Walsh made 85 appearances in the outfield in the Minors, so it’s not completely new to him.
"Got everybody in a lineup that I wanted to, and he's done it before,” Maddon said. “I know it's suboptimal, but he's worked out there. He's been out there in practice in the last couple of weeks.”
Left fielder Justin Upton was held out of the lineup after being hit on the helmet by a 94 mph fastball in Friday’s win. Head athletic trainer Adam Nevala told Maddon that Upton is doing well, but the four-time All-Star was held out as a precaution.
“I just got a text from Adam, who said [Upton] presented really well,” Maddon said. “Symptom-free today, and he's going to go through a normal routine and then we'll check him out after that. He got hit pretty good. And it's just one of those things that -- I talked to Adam about it last night -- I thought it was the right thing to do."