Trout's second year a bright spot in Angels' season
SEP 06, 2013 10:55p ET
On the heels of an incomparable 2012 rookie season, Trout is posting a second big-league season that in some ways is even better than his first. But there's nothing to celebrate, not for Trout and not for the Angels.
"From a team standpoint, it's just one of those years," Trout said. "We've been playing good ball of late, but it's frustrating. From an individual standpoint, I'm just going to go out there and keep playing and trying to put up some good numbers.
There are three weeks remaining in the season, and all that's left for the Angels is to spoil some other team's hopes -- and for Trout to build on what he's already done.
In that respect, there was a measure of satisfaction in Friday night's LA-Angels-past-Texas-?blockID=937157&feedID=3707"> 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers. For one thing, the Angels ended a seven-game losing streak to the Rangers. For another, they dropped Texas a half-game behind the Oakland A's in the American League West.
Trout was 3 for 4 with one RBI, and Mark Trumbo delivered his 30th home run, giving him back-to-back seasons of 30 or more. Vladimir Guerrero was the last Angel to reach that mark in successive seasons, doing it from 2004 to 2006.
But while Trumbo is digging himself out of a slump – he hit just .200 in August and started September 2 for 16 – Trout hasn't skipped a beat. With 23 games left, he has already passed his 2012 totals for walks (86 compared to 67), doubles (36/27) and triples (9/8) and is certain to finish with more hits and RBIs.
Perhaps most telling, Trout has a higher slugging average than last season (.575 to .564) and a higher on-base percentage (.435 to .399). His current .338 batting average is better than last season's final .326 mark.
"There's always anticipation when a guy has a year like Mike had – what's he going to do the next year?" Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Mike has answered all those questions. It’s just another incredible year for him.
"It's not like we were apprehensive or surprised that he's doing this, and it's not like we’re relieved that he could do it again. It’s just good to see because there are a lot of pressures that are applied to a guy like Mike when he does something like that at a young age, and he's handled it beautifully."
More experience has helped Trout be more selective at the plate, but so did hitting in front of Albert Pujols, at least until a foot injury ended Pujols' season prematurely in late July.
Trout, who finished second in last season’s MVP Award voting, leads the A.L. in walks and is second to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in on-base average.
"Getting more discipline at the plate is big," Trout said. "When Albert was in there, he was hitting behind me and I was getting more pitches to hit. With Albert being out, and Howie (Kendrick), and a lot of the guys that are real good hitters being out, without that protection it's a little different. I'm not expanding my strike zone. I'm taking my walks."
It doesn't help that the Angels faded from the division race long ago and haven't been closer than 10 games to first place since July 25. It has turned the season into little more than a statistical push, and it will end with the Angels missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
It happened because the Angels got off to a slow start, in part the result of an elbow to ace starter Jered Weaver. They were 9-17 at the end of April and never sustained a concerted run.
That's enough to remove a lot of the shine from Trout's brilliant summer.
"It's been tough for us, with Albert, our big guy, going down, and then Howie and Weave going down for a little bit," Trout said. "We can’t put ourselves in a hole like we did this year and last year. We've learned that. You put yourself in a hole, it’s hard to come back from it."
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