MLB

Why Mike Trout and the Angels Could Have a Winning Season This Year

The Angels haven’t won a World Series since 2002. Despite having Mike Trout, baseball’s best player, on their roster, they haven’t had much success winning in the postseason either. But their luck may change this year. Let’s look at Trout’s career with the Angels, why they come up short so often, and why they have a chance to turn it around this year. 

Mike Trout’s career

Los Angeles Angels Outfield Brian Goodwin, center fielder Mike Trout, and right fielder Kole Calhoun
Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin, center fielder Mike Trout, and right fielder Kole Calhoun | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Trout has been the best MLB player over the past decade. He’s won the American League MVP three times, AL Rookie of the Year, and All-Star Game MVP twice. Below are the stats he’s compiled for his career so far: 

  • Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 72.8
  • 1,324 hits
  • 285 home runs
  • .305 batting average
  • 903 runs scored
  • 752 RBI
  • .419 on-base percentage
  • .581 slugging percentage

Baseball-Reference compiles similarity scores to provide context on a player’s career and performance. Below is a list of players who Trout’s output compares favorably to through age 27. (All of them are either in the Hall of Fame or Hall of Fame-caliber players): 

  • Mickey Mantle
  • Frank Robinson
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Hank Aaron 
  • Miguel Cabrera
  • Eddie Matthews
  • Albert Pujols
  • Mel Ott
  • Andruw Jones
  • Joe DiMaggio

The Angels’ lack of postseason success

As great as Trout has been in his career — and every indication is that he’s headed for Cooperstown when it’s all said and done — the Angels haven’t been able to capitalize on it. They’ve largely been absent from the MLB postseason since Trout debuted in 2012.

During that timespan, the Angels’ only postseason appearance was in 2014. The Kansas City Royals swept them in the American League Division Series. This makes Trout’s playoff win-loss record with the Angels a disappointing 0-3. 

Why is it that the combination of Angels and Trout hasn’t added up to a World Series championship — or a World Series appearance, at the very least? It may be due to the fact that Trout hasn’t had a lot of help. While he compiles jaw-dropping statistics, the team doesn’t surround him with enough talent to win. 

Why Trout and the Angels could have a winning season this year

The Angels’ fortune could turn around this upcoming season despite years of their inability to contend for a championship. The difference? Two words: Anthony Rendon. 

Gerrit Cole may have been the hottest free agent on the market this season, but Rendon leading the Washington Nationals to a 2019 World Series win made him the top position player on the market. The Angels outbid everyone else, landing the hard-hitting third baseman. 

Rendon will instantly improve the Angels. He gives Trout protection in the lineup as Trout will likely see more pitches to hit with a hitter like Rendon near him. There’s also significant evidence that Rendon could be the best teammate Trout’s ever had. While some solid players have joined Trout and the Angels since his career began, none are quite as good as Rendon. 

Don’t forget the AL West may not be as strong as it’s been in the past. The Houston Astros dominated the division the past few years, but they’re reeling. They lost Cole, Justin Verlander’s out for six weeks after groin surgery, and the team will face the ramifications of the sign-stealing scandal at every road game. A new division champion could emerge.

Adding a dynamic player like Rendon — someone who can hit and field — may be just the piece the Angels need to get over the hump this year. With two hitters as good as Trout and Rendon in the same lineup, the sky is the limit for this club.