Following Mike Trout’s injury, I detailed what the injury meant for the team moving forward, essentially concluding the season was over because of the tough schedule moving forward, how Trout made up the lion’s share of offensive performance, and what direction the Angels go at the deadline.
To tell you just how headstrong I was about the situation, here’s an excerpt.
With the already low margin of error the Angels had this season, they now have absolutely none. Incapable of capitalizing on an easy road trip, they face a brutal June schedule that has them playing the Twins, Tigers, Astros, Yankees, Royals, Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. We could very well be looking at a month where the Angels lose twice as many games as they win and perhaps even worse, putting them in play for a top-5 pick come 2018 draft.
The rest of the season will be dedicated to tryouts, seeing what the Angels have so they can better build towards the Trout window,
20172018-2020. It also means selling off the pieces that can potentially garner any significant prospect haul in return, such as Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, David Hernandez, Blake Parker (gulp), Cameron Maybin, and more should they emerge.
It’s not going to be pretty, but Billy Eppler gets paid to make the tough decisions. This is far from ideal, and it’s going to be intriguing to see the players that emerge as well as how the trade deadline unfolds. At the very least, the promise of no expectations and cheaper tickets abound.
I completely wrote off the semblance of a chance that the Angels had this year, and given the circumstances, it’s hard to say I was alone in these thoughts. Trout notwithstanding, the Angels were an offensive dumpster fire, an average defense, and questionable starting pitching. In fact, they still are the latter two of these things.
But that they have gone 14-12 without Trout is a testament to the never-say-die attitude from this team that begun all the way back to spring training and the incredible 5-run 9th inning come-from-behind win against the Mariners early in the year. They have taken series from the Tigers, Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees twice, teams far more innately talented than them (division-leading teams, no less).
Thing is, that’s the result when you have a gritty team willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team every night. That’s what happens when guys put up solid AB after solid AB, willing to draw the walk and pass the buck to the next hitter on deck instead of trying to hit a five-run home run every at-bat. When you have a lockdown bullpen built on the backs of gritty journeymen who have the raw talent and comportment to stick in the big leagues, it shortens games and allows a team to win close ones. When Mike Scioscia presses all the right meritocracy-based bullpen buttons instead of awarding playing time based on pre-ordained ‘roles’, the result is a well-oiled buttkicking machine in addition to a healthy, well-functioning clubhouse. When there’s a new hero every night, that’s the sign of a spread-the-love approach from players that aren’t trying to single-handedly win the game by themselves.
There’s no explanation for why this team has a better record without Mike Trout than with him. This is the Team of Destiny, #TheHaloWay. Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.
And oh, by the way, that Mike Trout guy? He’ll be back before you know it.