AL MVP Debate: Is Mike Trout Still A Lock After Injury?

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On Sunday, The Los Angeles Angels announced outfielder Mike Trout would miss the rest of the 2019 season due to a lingering nerve issue, requiring surgery on his right foot. Doctors say the injury (Morton’s Neuroma) developed over time and was unavoidable. After missing the Angels’ previous eight games, the team was hoping to get Trout back into the lineup. Sadly, it’s a certainty that this season is under wraps for the eight-time All-Star. However, missing the last few weeks of the season should not deter voters from rightfully awarding Trout with the American League MVP Award.

This will be the third-straight year Trout will play less than 140 games, which is a shame because the slugger is undoubtedly in the prime of his career. The Angels (68-82) still have yet to build a contender around the slugger and are headed for their fourth straight losing-season. Currently, the team sits 20.5 games back from the final AL Wild Card spot, and has no mathematical chance of sneaking into the postseason. 

Photo Credit: Press of Atlantic City

Despite the lack of on-field support surrounding the modern-day “Mickey Mantle”, his individual statistical accomplishments this season take precedence over Los Angeles’ shortcomings in both divisional and league standings.

Through 134 games played this season, Trout has proved to be a difficult out at the plate, as he is hitting .291 while maintaining an on-base percentage of .438. The OPB is highlighted by his 110 walks. The right-handed slugger also mashes while at the plate. He has 45 homers to go along with his 104 RBI’s and finishes this season with a .645 slugging percentage.

In recent years, the game of baseball has changed immensely and has evolved into an analytics-driven, OPS (On Base + Slugging Percentage) and WAR (Wins Above Replacement) contest. Trout is the cream of the crop this season, leading the league in both OPS (1.083) and WAR (8.3). He also ranks first in walks and slugging at the moment, as well as sharing the league-lead in homeruns with Kansas City Royals slugger Jorge Soler.

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Arguments can be made against Trout, citing the Angels woes in the standings. Normally, it’s suggested that the MVP should be rostered on a playoff-bound contender. Nevertheless, Trout is the posterboy for MLB’s on-field evolution and it doesn’t seem right that an injury would remove him as an MVP favorite. Just imagine how awful the Angels would’ve looked this season without him, or what if he actually played a full slate of games?

Trout is certainly shaping up to be the best player of his generation. If he manages to stay healthy throughout the years to come, the New Jersey native will certainly win many more MVP’s including one this season, while paving a road for himself all the way to Cooperstown where he will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of spikes.

Header Photo Credit: NBC Sports

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