Los Angeles Angels 2015 center fielder grades, in Trout we trust
By David Rice
In continuing with our end of the season grades by positions, the focus turns to center field.
If there is one position on the Los Angeles Angels roster that Mike Scioscia can count on, it’s center field. The reason, the best player in baseball resides there: Michael Nelson Trout. Since bursting on the scene in 2011, Trout has been a mainstay in the Angels’ lineup, missing under 20 games in four seasons, most of which were routine days off. In his four years as an Angel, Trout is averaging 35 home runs, 100 RBIs and has a career batting average of .304. In his first three seasons, Trout finished second in the MVP race twice and won the MVP award in 2014.
So what did Trout do for an encore? He put up more MVP-like number in 2015: 41 home runs, 91 RBIs, .299 batting average and 104 runs scored. Trout was again stellar in the outfield, robbing numerous home runs and making diving catches. Trout did not make an error in 435 total chances. He, along with teammate Kole Calhoun, have been nominated for a gold glove. Trout’s OBP was .397 and his slugging percentage was .559, making Trout’s OPS .956. Trout’s 41 home runs was a career high, and with his close friend and teammate Albert Pujols hitting 40 home runs, they became the first Angels duo to finish with 40+ home runs a piece.
Trout plays the game the right way; hard and balls to the wall (and glove) every day. There is probably not a worse critic of Trout than Trout himself, which is very normal for the great ones as they seem to have an inner fire that motivates to keep improving. We still may have only seen the tip of the iceberg with Trout, as he is still only 24 years old. My advice to anyone who watches the Los Angeles Angels, appreciate it and enjoy the show Trout puts on.
While he is not perfect, Trout is as close as you will see to perfection in baseball today. Bryce Harper fans and even Josh Donaldson fans may disagree with me on this opinion. After seeing the numbers they both put up this year, you might have a case. However, that is for this season only. If you look over the last four years, the only player that can light a candle to Trout numbers wise is Miguel Cabrera. However, what I think gives Trout the nod is his defense and speed. Trout makes routine grounders anything but routine, beating them out numerous times and also causing opponents to rush, leading to fielding or throwing errors. Florida State football had a motto back in their Hey Day in the 80’s and 90’s, “Speed kills.” In Trout’s case, that FSU motto definitely fits. Ask any pitcher or fielder in the league and they would probably tell you the same thing.
Grade: A (would be an A+ except for the 158 strikeouts, might be the price of increased power numbers)
Honestly, with Trout playing in 156 games in center field, there wasn’t really anyone else to mention. David DeJesus started two games in center and Daniel Robertson started four games to make up the days when Trout had a wrist injury in late July and early August. Robertson, as a whole, played 33 games in the outfield, mostly in left field and performed adequately hitting .280 and driving in seven runs without hitting a homer. The best grade for center field for Robertson and for DeJesus for that matter is an incomplete as there was not a large enough sample size.
Los Angeles Angels fans are hopeful that Trout is a regular in center field for years to come. Before he is done, I believe Trout will go down as the best player in Angels history (provided he doesn’t bolt for free agency in 2020). We can all hope for Trout to be in an Angels jersey for the rest of his career.