Mike Trout, 0-26?

by Jason McLaughlin 

ANAHEIM, CA  Mike Trout is arguably the best hitter in baseball. He entered Major League Baseball at 19-yearsold, where he hit .220 in 40 games. The next year, Trout showed us what he is capable of by leading the league in Runs Scored and Stolen Bases. His performance was good enough to earn Rookie of the Year honors and his first All-Star Game appearance while finishing runner up in MVP votes. He went on to win 3 MVP’s, 9 Silver Sluggers, and has been selected as an All-Star 10 times. In fact, Trout has never been snubbed an All-Star selection since becoming a full-time player and would likely have 11 All-Star selections if it wasn’t for the shortened 2020 season (the first season since 1945 where the All-Star game was cancelled).

Trout is special because he is a five-tool player and has excelled in all aspects of the game. The only thing we haven’t seen Trout do is pitch and I think if the Angels were smart, they would test him out on the mound. They have nothing to lose because they have only been to the playoffs one time since adding Trout to the roster. Look, this guy has been recorded throwing people out at 98.6 mph from CF. Plus, he is clearly a competitor and wants to win. Put the ball in Trout’s hands maybe the Angels will finally win a playoff series for the first time 2009.

Anyway, the point is that Trout is a baseball legend, and he especially excels on offense. He has famously led the League in OPS+ six times in his 11 full seasons. He has also led the league in On-Base Percentage and Runs scored four times, Walks three times, and RBI’s and stolen bases once a piece.

At this point there should be no doubt that Mike Trout is a generational talent who has enjoyed plenty of success. However, baseball is an extremely challenging game and even the best have had a taste of failure. Let’s take a deeper look at Trout’s career long slump.

On Sunday, May 29th, the slump started with an 0-5 performance that brought his batting average from .320 down to .310. The Angels had the next day off in preparation for a six-game road trip that would start at Yankee Stadium and end in Philadelphia.

Trout would go 0-4, 0-3, and 0-3 in his three games in New York as the Angels were swept. By Friday, June 3rd, the Angels were on an eight-game losing streak and Trout was looking to break out of an 0-15 slump.

Friday, June 3rd turned out to be a huge disappointment for the organization as the Angels lost 10-0 to a World Series bound Phillies team. This game featured another hitless performance from their star Center Fielder and that would bring his slump to a concerning 0-19.

Concerning is the right word. It is important to note that Trout’s career worst slump at this point is 0-21. As a baseball player, I can assure you that the mental battle has started for the veteran at this point. Once you start approaching career worst statistics the demos inevitably begin to creep in.

What am I doing wrong? What do I need to change? Can I even hit a baseball still? How long is this shit gonna last?

These are all questions you might ask yourself while trying to find your stroke. Now, keep in mind that Trout is a professional because he is not only an athletic freak, but he also demonstrates top tier mental toughness. An Amateur may get so frustrated that they quit during an awful slump (sadly a common theme at the amateur level). But Mike does not have this luxury because he is paid millions to fight through it and figure it out. Unfortunately, he would not win the hit battle on June 4, as he would end his day with another 0-4 and surpass his career worst figure.

With Trout, something’s fishy.

As Sunday approached, the Angels were suffering through a 10-game losing streak and trying to avoid getting swept 3 series in a row. Mike Trout was trying to end his drought before the conclusion of the road trip. I would imagine the whole team stayed up late that Saturday night trying reverse their bad luck through various superstitions. Surely half of the team was performing extreme rituals such as, chasing down slumpbusters and sacrificing chickens while the rest of the team may have chosen to participate in more mild forms of superstition.

Whatever method the team used to cope seemed to be working for the Angels early that Sunday afternoon. The Angels jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the 5th inning.  Trout was having more patient at bats and even scored a run after drawing a walk in his second plate appearance in the 4th inning. Things were looking up as the team took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning. Even though Trout still had not registered a hit, sometimes contributing toward a win is a good way to ease the pain of poor hitting. This is especially true when you are putting the ball in play and avoiding strikeouts like Trout had done that day.

The Angels maintained the advantage until there were 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth. Disaster struck when Bryce Harper hit his 6th career Grand Slam and tied the Game at 6-6. The Angels answered in the top of the 9th when Matt Duffy hit an RBI single to take back the lead. Maybe the team’s luck had turned around?

Nope. In the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second, Bryson Stott hit a 3-run walk off HR and the Angels were swept for the third series in a row extending their losing streak to 11 games.

Over the course of 8 days, the Angels have lost 7 games and Mike Trout has gone 0-26.  The team has plummeted from 27-17 to 27-28. A team that had a .614-win percentage dropped to below .500 in a little over a week. Trout’s batting average was .320 on Sunday May 29 and had dropped to .274 by the following Sunday.

Unbelievable. 0-26 hurts but it hurts worse when you’re losing.  I can only imagine what was going through his head. What about the owner that extended his contract to a staggering 12-year, $426 million just 3 years prior?

What was going through his head?

What was the team’s flight home like? Was anybody able to sleep that night? Surely, there were a lot of people in the organization that were in jeopardy of losing their jobs at this point.

Mike Trout was not one of those people.

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