In 47 games played this season, reigning AL MVP Mike Trout has been sensational, hitting .337 with a .461 on-base percentage, 16 home runs, 14 doubles, 36 RBIs and 36 runs scored.
In other words, the 25-year-old superstar is off on the quest for his third MVP honor and is the clear frontrunner at this point in the 162-game regular season.
However, Trout was forced to leave Sunday’s game against the Miami Marlins with a sprained thumb.
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The injury occurred when he jammed his finger sliding into second on a stolen base in the fifth inning. While the x-rays were negative, he will need to undergo an MRI on Monday to rule out any significant damage.
Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register explained the initial diagnosis and the possible consequence:
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“Initial X-rays revealed that Trout doesn't have a fracture, but an MRI on Monday will show the extent of soft tissue damage. At this point, he may miss only a day or two, or he may be placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career,” he wrote.
Replacing Trout would be impossible for the Angels. Consider the following:
Heading into Sunday’s game, Trout led the AL in each of those categories. Therefore, filling in Ben Revere or either Shane Robinson, Kaleb Cowart or Ramon Flores from Triple-A would be a huge hit to Los Angeles’ lineup and to baseball as a whole.
Since Trout has the potential to put up numbers that have never been seen before, his health is of utmost importance in the historical perspective of his career. As arguably the face of the sport, it will be the best thing for the MLB if he stays on the field and avoids a DL stint.
"A scary thing," Trout described the injury as after the game. “Hopefully it's just sore and just jammed, a bad jam. I'm obviously bummed out, but Monday if it feels a little better, we'll see how it goes.”
Manager Mike Scioscia downplayed the injury, saying, ”The first indication is it just looks like a little sprain.”
While Trout averaged 158 games played from 2013 to 2016, he has caught the injury bug this season, missing six games with a hamstring injury earlier this season. In those games, the Angels went 2-4 and didn’t score over three runs more than once.
The loss of Trout would be catastrophic to the Angels. Consider the following via ESPN Stats & Info:
“Trout ranks first in the majors with 3.5 Wins Above Replacement. If he misses time, his replacement could be Ben Revere. Revere ranks second-to-last among position players with -1.2 WAR this season. In fact, Trout has compiled 14 WAR -- most in the majors -- since the start of the 2016 season. Revere ranks second-to-last in that span too, at -2.4 WAR.”
Replacing the best player in baseball with one of the worst in terms of WAR is not a recipe for success.
Additionally, using another metric, losing Trout would be especially damaging to the Angels, who already have a limited offense according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“Baseball-Reference.com has a run value stat to show how much a player’s bat is worth to his team. Trout entered Sunday ranked first on the Angels, 28 runs above average. Cameron Maybin ranks second at three runs above average. If Trout were significantly hurt, the Angels would join the Rangers as the only AL teams with one non-disabled player worth at least three batting runs.”
In the best case scenario, Trout sits out a couple of games to rehab the sprain after the MRI comes back clean. In the worse case scenario, he will head to the DL after the MRI shows soft tissue damage.
Not only would that essentially throw out the Angels season, but it would also rob MLB fans of what can blossom into one of the best seasons in recent memory given his hot start.
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