Why Can’t Mike Trout and the Angels Win a Playoff Series?

Mike Trout has spent his entire career wowing baseball fans, not just in Anaheim, but wherever the Los Angeles Angels play. Without a doubt, the centerfielder is one of the MLB’s top players. As Trout gets closer to legendary status every season, the Angels continue to struggle for title contention.

So why is it that a team with generational talent like Trout can’t seem to advance to October and win in the playoffs?

Is Mike Trout the best baseball player of this generation?

Trout has been a sensation since he entered the league in 2011. He has a Rookie of the Year Award, three Most Valuable Player Awards, and eight All-Star Game appearances. The best way to judge Trout and his place in the game is to see how he stacks up against his peers. 

A way analysts measure a player’s value is by calculating Wins Above Replacement (WAR). This indicates how many wins the player helps a team earn if he’s in the lineup instead of a replacement-level type player. Trout’s career WAR is 72.5 — second among active position players. To put it into a better context, the only player ahead of Trout is Albert Pujols, who’s played much longer than Trout and is nearing the end of his career. 

If you’re talking about the 2010s, there’s little question about the best player. Trout is currently the top player and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for the Angels, this hasn’t translated into postseason success. 

The Angels’ lack of postseason success 

The Angels last won a World Series in 2002, a thrilling seven-game victory over the Barry Bonds-led San Francisco Giants. Since then, the Angels have had six postseason appearances, each one ending in disappointment: 

  • 2004: Lost in the AL Division Series
  • 2005: Lost in the AL Championship Series
  • 2007: Lost in the AL Division Series
  • 2008: Lost in the AL Division Series
  • 2009: Lost in the AL Championship Series
  • 2014: Lost in the AL Division Series

Since adding Trout, the team has only appeared in the playoffs once (a pathetic sweep against the Royals in 2014). This means no Trout-led Angels team has ever even won a playoff game, much less a series.

Despite having the best player in baseball, it’s mind-boggling how much the Angels struggle to advance to the playoffs. The team has had talent at other positions as well. But they haven’t been able to put it together enough to compete at the highest level. Why are they having such a hard time? 

The biggest reasons for the Angels’ lack of postseason success

ESPN compiled a list of reasons why the Angels haven’t been competitive in the postseason. Here are a few: 

  • Pujols never lived up to the greatness of his earlier years. By the time he came to the Angels, his prime was essentially gone. He was still a solid player, but not the superstar they signed to a long-term deal. 
  • If signing Pujols was a disappointment, Josh Hamilton’s signing extended into total calamity. Hamilton was a shell of the player he was in Texas and even relapsed into substance abuse. The Angels traded him back to the Rangers and ended up paying most of his contract.
  • Their pitchers could never stay healthy. Despite collecting some solid arms in the starting rotation, injuries took a toll. The Angels could not put together a healthy staff that led a team to the playoffs. 

Ultimately, the team will need more than Trout to win. Signing third baseman Anthony Rendon is a solid start. But LA will need a lot more to break the right way to play with the AL’s best in October. 

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