Anthony Rendon's injury might've just given Angels the perfect Mike Trout solution

Mike Trout's move to leadoff after Rendon's latest injury could end up being a change that sticks.
Los Angeles Angels v Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Angels v Boston Red Sox / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

If you are the 2024 Los Angeles Angels who are just trying to survive and hang around in the AL wild card race at this point, you have to maximize your strengths. While some guys have potential or are intriguing in certain roles, there has to be something LA can hang their hat on and rely upon every game to give them a chance. In the Angels' case, that list starts with Mike Trout.

After injuries have limited Trout to roughly 79 games a season the last three years, he has looked like a player reborn in 2024 as he has put up a .904 OPS with nine homers while seeing some notable gains in areas that have plagued him in recent years (beyond his body giving him problems). Sure, the .237 batting average isn't ideal, but he looks as dangerous at the plate as he ever has this season.

Other players like Taylor Ward and Logan O'Hoppe have made important contributions as well, but giving Trout as many plate appearances as possible remains the best option available to the team right now. With Anthony Rendon hurt once again with no timeline yet for his return, it appears as though the Angels are seizing the opportunity as they are trying Trout out at leadoff again, and it paid off immediately against the Orioles.

Could batting Mike Trout leadoff be the solution Angels were waiting for all along?

While Trout has batted second or third the vast majority of his career, he is no stranger to batting leadoff as he has done so in 163 games. The results were also quite good as he is a .953 OPS hitter batting first, but that is a little misleading given that Trout's career numbers are good basically anywhere he hits. With the Angels lacking a true traditional leadoff hitter as well as a lot of quality offensive options, batting Trout first lets him get the most plate appearances possible while testing the defense/pitching as early as possible.

Knowing manager Ron Washington, he will probably continue to experiment with the lineup given matchups and how guys are hitting. If Taylor Ward keeps raking, he could get a look there as well, and if Nolan Schanuel can get on base more, the Angels could revisit their original plan of him leadoff as well. However, there is a realistic chance that their best option, if they are wanting to maximize their chance to win, could be with Trout atop the order.

As for what that means for Rendon when he returns, that is a problem for another day. He had been looking much better at the plate before he got hurt, but his history of long IL stints can't be ignored. The lack of tangible updates regarding his injury doesn't inspire confidence and is also very on brand for a Rendon injury. If he does come back pretty soon, the Angels need to make Rendon earn that spot in the lineup, because at this point their season depends on it.

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