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Trout takes birthday moment to reflect

ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout turned 23 on Thursday, which didn't make him feel old but did prompt a rare moment of reflection.

"I was talking to [Jered Weaver], looking at how much time I have up here," Trout said. "After this year, it'll be over 3 years. It's been quick. I'm having fun here. This is where I want to be; can't ask for anything else."

Nor can the Angels.

Trout has posted a .318/.409/.566 slash line since his first full season in 2012. He's joined Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Ott and Ted Williams as the only players to have multiple seasons of at least 25 homers, 80 RBIs, 100 runs and a batting average over .320 before turning 23. And based on Wins Above Replacement, he's the best player in history through his age-22 season, with a 26.5 score that barely tops Ty Cobb (25.5).

As Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "He's got a feeling of what he can do on the baseball field that 99 percent of us dream about."

It's been there since he was first called up, but it's ever-evolving. Scioscia has seen it show up in the way Trout plays center field, learning "not to overreact" with his positioning because "his speed is a difference-maker where he can shade and not have to overplay and still make the plays he needs to in the outfield."

Trout himself has noticed how experience has helped him improve in clutch situations.

"Being able to calm yourself, control your emotions," said Trout, whose first two walk-off homers have come this season. "It's tough when you have 40,000 people standing up, cheering for you. You want to get that big hit, but if you try to do too much, you get in trouble. You try to relax up there. It's tough, but when you get a feel for it, it's easier."

Trout -- batting .302 with 25 homers, 81 RBIs and 12 steals this season -- has never been considered a guy who doesn't come through in clutch situations, but he's producing a lot better under what Baseball-Reference calls "high leverage" situations.

Last year, Trout batted .257/.386/.327 in those circumstances.

This year, it's .363/.460/.725.

"First two years, it was all-out or nothing," Trout said. "But now, I try to relax up there, get my pitch and don't try to do too much."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
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