Two years in a row Mike Trout has come in as the runner up in the MVP race, although he should have won both. Each year for the past three years, Mike Trout has continued to improve his game. This year, at All Star break, he leads the team in runs, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, total bases, and walks. Trout won All-Star MVP.
We Angel fans know how great Trout is. We know he earned his way onto the All-Star game through the game; not the fans. But I read this Score article titled "Why Mike Trout Isn't the New Face of Baseball - Yet" and it struck a serious chord with me.
In baseball, the good guy/bad guy dichotomy isn't quite as clear cut as in the inane soap opera for preteens, but much of last night's All Star festivities felt as though the machinery of Major League Baseball was trying to turn Mike Trout into a "face" - the face of the game.
The air was rife with "Jeter passes the torch to Trout" narrative strains in the Twin Cities. It seemed forced and unnatural, as though fans lack the free will to decide on their own who should serve in the nominal role of baseball's "new face."
I do not believe Trout was passed any torch. If anything, Trout surpassed Jeter. I do not believe Jeter belonged in the All-Star game. Jeter did not finish first in any of the stats for the Yankees that Trout did for Angels. Here is a fanpost of a fellow Angels fan, AngelsBucsLakersTrojans, that gives you a statistical results oriented All-Star selection. The only thing unnatural at the All-Star game was Jeter's presence.
Baseball didn't orchestrate Jeter's rise to the preeminent sportsmen of his generation. His work on the biggest stage in the game garnered him the respect and admiration of fans, media, and his fellow competitors alike.
Mike Trout has a great chance to do the same. He's arguably a better player now than Jeter ever was, a similarly blank slate advertisers and image-conscious Old White Baseball can anoint their chosen one.
The author makes note of Jeter's work that shot him into prominence in this first paragraph, but give Trout a backhanded compliment while denoting that Trout is the better player now than Jeter ever was. I am not sure the author understood what he wrote there. This is almost similar to saying that Miguel Cabrera earned a triple crown, something that a few have done before. But then saying that Mike Trout is good because he has done something no other baseball player has ever done before. Oh wait... this is not similar but the same line of error full of thought.
For now, his Angels teammates need to play along. They sit with the second-best record in all of baseball at the All Star break, challenging for the AL West division title.
Would they be there without Trout? No matter what you think of value stats like Wins Above Replacement, this Angels group would challenge for the post-season even without the best player in the game.
Trout owns the best OWAR with 5.7 and second best WAR at 5.5 in the whole of MLB. Jeter has a 1.1 OWAR and a WAR of 0.9. What exactly does the team have to do with being the face of the MLB? Does it not speak more volumes that Jeter's WAR is quite miniscule compared to Trout's WAR? Does it also not speak volumes that Trout's team is in playoff contention and Jeter's team is outside looking into the playoff spot? The AL West has three teams that have better records than the Yankees. Should not the inquiry be why is not Jeter doing more to help the Yankees get into the playoffs? Because I know for sure that if Jeter is not on the team that the Yankees would still be outside of playoff contention right now.
Trout's time is now. No All Star ovations or grooved fastballs or feel-good moments will usher the in the era of Trout any faster than his own actions. On the field and off, the best player in baseball in baseball can't inhabit a greater place in the sporting culture until he does one thing - earn it.
So dominating the MLB scene since coming up as a rookie in the MLB is not earning it? Winning the AL Rookie of the year unanimously is not earning it? Finishing second in AL MVP two years in a row since his rookie season is not earning it? Winning the 2014 All-Star MVP is not another feather in Mike Trout's cap of earning it? What exactly is this author trying to imply with his bias? Is it the same ones that prevented Mike Trout from winning two AL MVP's already? One would think that after two and a half years of putting up superman type numbers that Trout would finally be receiving the recognition that many on the west coast already have of him. Apparently, there remains a negative bias on Trout as he is surpassing many players nowadays by leaps and bounds. Maybe Trout is too good to be true so they treat his accomplishments like fiction. A guy from a small town called Millville and doing things as a rookie that no one in the MLB player has never accomplished before has to be fiction.