The Angels have played .500 ball in the twelve games since the end of the All Star Break. That 6-6 record has seen the team play 8 one-run games (with a 5-3 record), 3 two-run games (they are 0-3 in these) and a 4-0 shutout of the Tigers last Friday. They are 1-2 in the three extra inning games played in that span.
In that stretch, All Star Game MVP Mike Trout has been in a slump that has taken his season average down below .300 for the first time since June 14. His OPS is .980, the lowest it has been since June 16. He has eleven hits in 56 Plate Appearances with five Walks (an OBP of .285) with four doubles and two home runs. Trout has struck out 18 times. He has seven RBI in the twelve games, four of which came in the first game back.
Suffice to say, Mike has been a below average player - although his great Center Field defense has been just fine in this time. But we now see what the Angels are without Mike Trout. They are a .500 team. With Trout delivering subpar production for any outfielder on any major league team, the rest of the squad appears to us in higher resolution. they don't blow out anyone. their good pitching keeps them in many low-scoring games. They have an offense that scores two runs more often than not, but rarely six runs.
The new, improved Angels bullpen has probably been as responsible as anything for keeping the Angels in the games they have played since the All Star Break. Had Trout been drafted by any one of the 22 teams that passed on him in the first round of the 2009 draft, the 2014 Angels would probably have traded away parts for prospects by now and not crafted this stellar pen. There are a lot of what-ifs to such a scenario, but the Halos are showing us that they are basically a .500 ballclub plus one historic superstar.
If Trout plays to the caliber of his superstar status by adding .125 points to that late-July low On-Base-Percentage, maybe pairing him with a .500 club is enough to take the division. Tinkering toward the positive with a bullpen certainly helps. But watching him flail away as the league demands adjustment is making his supporting cast look around league average. And maybe that tells you everything you need to know about Trout, but it definitely tells you everything you need to know about the front office that assembled the team around him.