About a year ago, I decided to move in with a couple of my best friends in Long Beach. They are top-tier people, and it’s been one of the better decisions I’ve made in recent memory. They both have great jobs, are the best dog-parents to a little pup, and recently bought a beautiful first home for themselves.
They bought a home! A real home. Not a tiny home you see on HGTV . That is impressive in and of itself. More impressively, however, is that they bought a home in Long Beach that has enough parking to fit more than a Hot Wheel. I can even invite friends over and not have to have a detailed map for how to get from the Second-Tree-On-The-Right-Hand-Side-Three-Streets- Down-To-My-Front-Door. I had previously thought sufficient parking was only a privilege afforded to the (insert Bernie Sanders voice here) top one-tenth of one percent of the world.
They are engaged, have a dog, have a home, and have parking. What more could they need? They are set up forever.
But, they are the worst. The abbbsssoolluuuttee worst. They are Dodgers fans.
They have created this hostile home environment for me and I am unable to escape. I cannot look past my nose without seeing some sort of Dodgers *thing* staring back at me. They have this beautiful new home that they have tainted with the stench of Dodgers memorabilia. Their walls are blue, they have Dodgers coasters, and they’ve got this stupid-ass LA DODGERS sticker on the back of their stupid-ass blue car. I live in a Dodgers household, and, as an Angels fan, that blows. They are the worst, and their favorite baseball team sucks.
But my roommates aren’t really the worst. They are cool, and successful, and in shape, and eat healthy, and on an upwards trajectory and No I’m Not Jealous Why Are You Asking? But the Dodgers still suck--not in the Wins and Losses way that actually matters. They are pretty good in that regard. The Dodgers are a good baseball team. They have a good major league product, a good minor league product, and perhaps the prospect with the best hair in the minors (Hellllllo Dustin May). So they don’t actually suck. But they just suck in that annoying way that teams you don’t like just suck, ya know?
It sucks even further that the Dodgers are well run while the Angels are Extremely Not. The Angels are bad in all the ways the Dodgers are good. They have a poor major league roster, a much worse farm system, and a lot of players without any hair at all. They have not won a playoff game this decade, and they haven’t been good in a long time.
But this is all okay with me because Mike Trout is on the Angels and Mike Trout is the best. He’s the My Roommates of the Angels. He’s successful, rich, probably has a home, probably has soooooooooooo much parking, and he’s the best player in the world. And he’s on my favorite team. I can’t complain too much about living with Dodgers fans, even though I’m constantly being taunted by Cody Bellinger’s bobbling head in the living room in this goddamn Dodgers household and that’s because being able to root for Mike Trout changes that calculus. I can be happy within this godforsaken Andre Ethier shrine of a household because Mike Trout is on my favorite team, and no Dodgers fan can say that. Not even Cody’s bobbling head.
Trout does a lot of amazing things all the time. He’s the best player to have ever played up until this point in his career. His worst seasons are better than your favorite player’s best seasons--and he does it every year! He robs homers, he steals bases, he hits dingerz, and he throws out runners at home. He’s pretty good! He can’t be stopped. But the Angels sure can, they can hardly start most of the time. Which is why, if there’s one thing that wholly encapsulates the Most Mike Trout Thing during Mike Trout’s career with the Angels, it was July 31st, 2019, against the Detroit Tigers.
The Angels lost 9-1 ---to the Detroit goddamn Tigers. Name one Tiger….I’ll wait.
Nobody! They have nobody! I bet you were thinking of Nick Castellanos but they traded him, too. The Tigers have players named Niko Goodrum, Jacoby Jones, Buck Farmer, Jeimer Candelario, and Charles Gonzalez and only one of these names was randomly generated from the internet. They’re bad. They have been even worse than the Angels recently. But the Angels lost to the Tigers on July 31, 2019, because they’re the Angels and of course they did.
The reason this game is the Most Mike Trout Thing is because he hit a solo homerun in the sixth inning for the Angels’ only run. Excluding Trout’s day, which included a dinger and a walk, the rest of the Angels hit an anemic .147/.257/.222 against the powerhouses of Daniel Norris (4.67 ERA in 2019), Nick Ramirez (5.09), Trevor Rosenthal (11.30), Buck Farmer (3.91), and Joe Jimenez (4.93). Mike Trout was able to somehow crack that Da Vinci Code of vaunted Tigers arms that day, but nobody else was. This is an all too familiar story--because it happens a lot.
Mike Trout has hit 278 homeruns in his career, and 181 of them have been solo homers---that’s good for a 65% solo shot rate. While that is a higher percentage than I received in any class in college (Go Beach!), the Angels should be better at putting runners on base in front of Trout than I was at learning about Walt Whitman. He’s already hit 22 solo homeruns already this year, and is challenging his career high of 31(!!) back in 2015.**
**I hereby decree Mike Trout’s 2015 season to be the Most Mike Trout Season, as he hit 75% of his homers with nobody on base, finished second in the MVP voting to a guy with a lower WAR total, and dragged a cast of Johnny Giavotella and Matt Joyce’s Corpse to within one game of the playoffs**
The essence of Mike Trout’s employment with the Angels is him scoring a run all by himself. It’s him coming to the plate after two groundouts and hitting a solo homer before the next batter inevitably strikes out to end the inning. It’s the lonely trot around the bases. It’s the High Fives to No One at home plate. It’s the companionless trudge back to the dugout after rounding the bases. It’s the feeling of looking up at the scoreboard after his at bat, seeing a "1" in the Runs column, and realizing that that’s it. Mike Trout has scored a run all by himself again. Something he does more often than he should.
He does get the bare minimum help sometimes, though. Since he became a full-time regular player in 2012, Trout’s RBI have accounted for the Angels’ only runs 28 times. For example, on May 24, 2015, Mike Trout hit an RBI single in a 6-1 Angels loss to the Boston Red Sox. On April 14, 2017, Mike Trout hit an RBI single in a 7-1 Angels loss to the Kansas City Royals. He does these things mostly by himself, but since an Angels player accidentally got on base in front of him, we can only give him the majority of the credit instead of all of it.
Of these 28 games, Trout has hit a homer to produce the Angels’ only runs 20 times. For example, Trout hit a two run homerun on April 22, 2018, in a 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. In another case, on June 12, 2018, Trout hit two homers, a solo shot and a two run homer, in a game the Angels lost 6-3 to the Seattle Mariners. The only reason the Angels scored runs in these games was because Mike Trout decided he didn’t want to get shutout. When Mike Trout decides to do something, you best believe it gon’ be done.
But the Troutiest of all Mike Trout stats is the previously described Trout solo shot for the only run of the game, which I’ve acronymed nicely as ALONEE (A Lift Off Nobody Else Experiences). There have been thirteen times where Mike Trout has hit a solo homerun and nobody else did anything. The true encapsulation of the Mike Trout Experience. Whether it was July 19, 2012, July 31, 2019, or anywhere in between, Trout’s career has been littered by ALONEEs. The Angels actually won one of these ALONEE games back in 2015, when Trout hit a homerun on July 17 against the Boston Red Sox to give the Angels a 1-0 victory.
I have no idea if 13 ALONEEs is the most over that timespan in Major League Baseball. I would suspect it’s close, but I didn’t bother to do that research because I don’t really think it matters. This phenomena is specifically important to Trout, because it’s symbolic of his tenure in Anaheim. Mike Trout is always good, and the Angels have had a history of rarely helping him out. Trout has lifted the Angels offense to at least respectable each year, no matter how many times Mike Scioscia or Brad Ausmus pencils in a randomly generated player off of MLB the Show to play second base.
While this may sound like a downer, it also feels like one! This is the highest height my outlook on the Angels can reach. Three playoff games, and three playoff losses, in nine years will have that effect on a fan’s psyche. But Mike Trout makes that all feel a little better. Things are a little less bleak when his name is announced at Angels Stadium. The feeling of watching the Best to Ever Do It So Far kind of temporarily washes away the pessimism that resides in watching the team as a whole.
So as I traverse through the kitchen, opening the refrigerator graffitied with Dodgers magnets, to get a beer that I have to open with a Dodgers bottle-opener, before I place it on a Dodgers coaster while Cody Bellinger bobbles his head at me incessantly, I’ll at least be able to find solace in knowing that, while I may never experience my favorite team making the playoffs again, my roommates will never be able to experience the joy that it is to watch Mike Trout play baseball every day for their favorite team.
***All research done by Steven Parker, data extraordinaire***
By Squeak Crow (@shortstoppin_)