Flying fish! Trout leaps for impressive home run robbery

June 30th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- It was only fitting that on the same day he was named an All-Star for the 11th time in his career, put on a show at Angel Stadium, going 3-for-5 at the plate and making yet another home run-robbing catch in center field.

Trout has worked hard to improve his defense, and it was on full display in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s 9-7 loss to the White Sox, when he robbed first baseman Andrew Vaughn of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall. Trout, who became just the ninth player to be voted in by the fans as an All-Star starter in 10 straight seasons, was asked if the catch was the cherry on top after the game.

“Just out there trying to help us win a ballgame,” Trout said with a smile. “It was a fun day. Obviously, we lost, but it was a fun catch.”

It was yet another home run robbery for Trout, who also robbed Austin Hays of a homer on May 16 and Ian Happ of one on June 7. It was one of several robberies this year for the Angels, as Mickey Moniak did it on May 19 and June 13, while Taylor Ward did it on April 24. Trout’s most famous home run robbery remains his iconic catch in Baltimore on June 27, 2012, when he stole a blast from J.J. Hardy.

But this was another impressive play from Trout, who has worked with outfield coach Damon Mashore to get better jumps and better reads. Trout ranks in the 86th percentile in Statcast's Outs Above Average, which is an improvement over recent seasons.

“He showed he’s one of the best out there again today,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “That’s just the way he is.”

Trout's catch helped left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who otherwise struggled, allowing seven runs over five innings. He didn't give up much hard contact, but he was hurt by a six-run third inning.

Sandoval surrendered eight hits, but none of them went for extra bases. He noted that Vaughn’s out was the hardest-hit ball he surrendered, at 103 mph.

“It was a huge play for us,” Sandoval said. “It was the hardest ball I probably let up, and it was an out. Baseball is crazy. Amazing play, though.”

Trout also said he’s starting to feel more locked in at the plate. He’s hitting .260/.367/.491 with 17 homers, 14 doubles and 42 RBIs in 77 games, which is a bit below his incredibly lofty standards. But he's been heating up, slashing .343/.452/.743 with three homers, three doubles and five RBIs over his past 10 games.

“It’s coming,” Trout said. “I’ve felt a lot better the last week. I’ve been patient and having good at-bats. I think things are going to turn around.”

Trout, 31, found out after the game he was elected as a starter for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game in Seattle on July 11. The three-time American League MVP is joining his teammate Shohei Ohtani on the roster, as Ohtani is already an All-Star after being the leading AL vote-getter in Phase 1 of the balloting.

Ohtani also hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to pull the Angels within two runs, but it wasn’t enough. Ohtani’s homer was his 14th in June, breaking the club’s record for homers in any month. The two-way sensation leads the Majors with 29 blasts on the year.

“It’s been an amazing month,” Trout said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It’s something we’ll never see again. And I have front-row seats watching it. It’s pretty special what he’s doing.”

But Trout and Ohtani’s performances came in a second straight loss for the Angels, who had to settle for a series split with the White Sox. They now host the first-place D-backs for a three-game set that starts Friday.

“We've got to turn the page and come in and try to beat a good team tomorrow,” Trout said. “We fought back. We could’ve easily put our heads down, but we fought back.”