Mike Trout has been on the Angels for nearly a decade and has been the best player in baseball since his first full season in 2012. His greatness is as consistent as the Angels’… um, not greatness. During his spectacular career, his team has made the postseason exactly once, in 2014. Yet Trout has never once complained publicly, never requested a trade, and when the Angels offered him a contract extension, he signed a 12-year deal for $426,500,000. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But could Trout have made a lot more than that as a free agent? Also yes. Instead, he committed to presumably playing the rest of his career for a team that has been consistently mediocre for years. This begets the question: WHY? Well, I have a few theories.
The city of Los Angeles’ other longtime baseball superstar, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, has a long track record of underperforming in the playoffs, tarnishing his otherwise spectacular legacy. Mike Trout didn’t hit well in his one playoff series. Perhaps Trout is afraid he’d choke in the postseason like Kershaw so he decided it’s better not to get there.
Trout is from New Jersey. One might think he’d want to go play close to home with the Phillies, Yankees, or Mets. Then again, everyone knows New Jersey is pretty terrible so maybe Trout just wants to stay as far from there as possible. So SoCal it is.
Not to get too conspiratorial, but this is America in 2021 so unfortunately we have to get too conspiratorial. What if the Angels have some kind of dirt on Trout that they threatened to go public with if he left them? Is it possible that the great Mike Trout is secretly an actual trout masquerading as a human ballplayer?
In his rookie year, Trout led the league in stolen bases with 49. Over the years since, his steals have dramatically declined down to 11 in 2019 and then just one in the COVID-shortened 2020. Perhaps he’s concerned that even if he wanted to leave LA, his legs no longer work well enough to get himself to another city.
The same year Trout was Rookie of the Year, the Angels also added the great Albert Pujols as a free agent. They signed Pujols to a 10-year deal when he was already 31. Like Trout now, Pujols had been the game’s best player for a decade. But his decline had already begun and he spent the first few years of his time with the Angels as a relative disappointment and the last few as a below average player/old man. And yet the Angels still play Pujols despite his being terrible for years simply because they are paying him a lot of money. Maybe Trout anticipates that one day he too will be terrible, but he assumes the Angels will likewise let him play out his deal with them, no matter how little he does to help the team.
The Angels changed their name from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim seven years before Trout arrived. And in 2016 they shortened it to simply the Los Angeles Angels. So perhaps Trout got his LA teams confused and has thought all along that he’s on the Los Angeles Dodgers, that perennial contender. I think this one is the most likely scenario. So congrats, Mike Trout, on finally bringing the city of Los Angeles a World Series championship last year!*
*Don’t tell him the sad truth.