Season three for the Angel phenom began slowly!
After two incredible seasons in which the Angels center fielder was the runner-up for Most Valuable Player, Trout was off to a slow start -- for him! What is amazing is his slower start was good by league standards, but slow considering our greater expectations of the spectacular third-year player from New Jersey.
Less than a month ago, Trout's numbers were down -- yet still respectable -- he was in or near the top 20 in the MLB for most of April and May. His season-low batting average on April 9 at .257, was higher than many players would aspire to achieve as their high for the season. Nine days later he would hit his season high of .338.
So he was well on his way to new heights?
Not quite. His average would not stay at that level. It began to decline slowly the very next day. In fact, he would struggle a little in all offensive categories, managing only eight home runs, 28 RBIs, and scoring only 27 times during the first 46 games of the season. But it was the first half of May that was untypical Mike Trout. During that period, through the 17th, Mike hit only .148 going just 8-for-54 with not a single multi-hit game during the 15-game span.
Trout's skills are something every player in baseball would love to possess. As is typical of the excitement he generates, Trout would not be held in check for long and his rapid ascent in late May and the first 19 days of June was something to not only admire but be in awe of.
Mike went on two streaks that elevated him to lofty levels in most offensive categories. It could have easily been one streak if he hadn't been pulled after one at bat because of a tightening in his back on June 3, which ended his 11-game streak. Two days later he was again in the lineup and proceeded to go on a tear -- this one 13 games. He had nine multi-hit games during the two streaks.
There's lots of talk of Trout being the most skilled player in baseball at the young age of 22. Announcers on national television are having difficulty finding a comparison with some saying his skills are reminiscent of Mickey Mantle, and others equating them to Willie Mays. The lofty praise is fitting this exciting young phenom who energizes the Angels and Angels fans every night.
But streaks like this are not uncommon for the Angels center fielder. His longest hitting streak is 15 games -- accomplished last year in July.
The day before his first streak began, Trout was hitting a mere .263. Not bad, but a little anemic for Mike Trout, who averaged over .300 his first two seasons. At the end of the 11-game streak he had raised his average to .294 -- an increase of .31 points in just 11 games. His home run production had increased by three. He added 10 RBIs and scored seven runs in that period. His average was an incredible .415 during the 11 games.
After just two days out of the lineup, he began another streak that was even more impressive and moved him up in every offensive category. He raised his batting average just 18 points but his other production was phenomenal. He had 16 RBIs, scored 15 runs, increased his slugging percentage (SLG) to .593 (.546), and his on base percentage (OBP) to .395 (.379). He also hit five home runs, tying him for 11th place with a total of 16 dingers. His slugging percentage was an incredible .865 during the streak.
Pretty impressive numbers for any ballplayer but numbers we've come to expect out of Mike Trout, who has all the tools to accomplish phenomenal things in a sport that has had many great players over more than the 100 years that this all-American sport has been played. A phenom?
Phenom -- a person who is outstandingly talented or admired; a star -- is not a title sports announcers, analysts, or baseball officianados throw around lightly. But that word is being used frequently to describe the Angels' young outfielder and deservedly so.
It is especially exciting to marvel over the talents of this young man and easy to revel in his amazing ascension like the one he's had over the last 30 games.
The Angels are playing well with the best starting pitching staff they've had in years. Both veterans -- Eric Aybar, Howie Kendricks and Chris Iannetta -- and youngsters -- Grant Green, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron -- have contributed offensively and defensively to the Angels' improved season -- the third-best record in the American League.
With the reemergence of Trout, a greater improvement from Pujols, Hamilton and Freese, and a stronger performance from the bullpen, the Angels have a real chance at the American League Championship and a place in this year's World Series.
Trout is still ascending and he's taking all of us along for the ride giving everyone who enjoys baseball the pleasure of seeing how far he will rise!
It's only a matter of time before his ascension brings him the coveted Most Valuable Player award!
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