Athlete of the Month for September 2020
Mike Trout, byname of Michael Nelson Trout, (born August 7, 1991, Vineland, New Jersey, U.S.), American baseball centre fielder who was one of the sport’s best all-around players of the early 21st century.
Trout was a baseball star at Millville (New Jersey) High School, and his already-apparent skills prompted the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to choose him as the 25th overall selection of the 2009 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. He spent a short time in the minor leagues—and in 2010 was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the best player in the minors—before he made his full-season major-league debut in 2012. He then proceeded to have a spectacular rookie season, leading the American League (AL) in runs scored (129) and stolen bases (49) while posting a .326 batting average. Moreover, his stellar defense in centre field and his dominance in the advanced statistical categories led many observers to trumpet him as the 2012 AL Most Valuable Player (MVP), but he finished second in the MVP voting to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Trout did, however, win AL Rookie of the Year honours by unanimous vote.
Trout’s second season was just as impressive. He again led the AL in runs (109) and drew 110 bases-on-balls (walks), feats that aided him in posting a .432 on-base percentage (OBP). However, his accomplishments were again overshadowed by those of Cabrera to MVP voters, and Trout once more finished second to the Detroit slugger in balloting for that award. In 2014 Trout belted a career-high 36 home runs and led the league with 111 runs batted in (RBIs) while retaining his spot atop the runs-scored leaderboard with 115. His strong play finally catapulted him past Cabrera, and in 2014 Trout was voted that season’s AL MVP. He also helped the Angels reach the postseason for the first time in his career, but the team was swept in its opening playoff series by the Kansas City Royals.
Trout was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game in 2015, where he earned game MVP honours for the second straight year and became the first player in the 82-year history of the game to win back-to-back All-Star MVP awards. Trout finished that season with a career-high 41 home runs and an AL-leading .590 slugging percentage (a statistic that measures a hitter’s power production). Trout rounded out what was arguably the all-time greatest first five years of a major-league career by batting .315 and leading the AL in runs (123), walks (116), and OBP (.441) in 2016, which led to his second AL MVP award.
Despite missing 39 games in 2017 because of a torn thumb ligament, Trout still amassed 33 home runs and 72 RBIs while again leading the AL in OBP (.442) that season. In 2018 he hit 39 home runs and had an AL-best 122 walks and .460 OBP, but the Angels continued to struggle despite Trout’s brilliance, finishing the season with a losing record and missing the playoffs for the sixth time in Trout’s seven full seasons with the team. Despite the relative lack of on-field success during his time with the Angels, in March 2019 Trout signed a 12-year extension with the team for $426.5 million, which was, at the time, the largest amount of money in a single contract in the history of professional sports. He continued his dominance in 2019, again leading the AL in OBP (.438) and slugging percentage (.645) while hitting a career-high 45 home runs. Despite the Angels’ continued mediocrity on the field (posting a 72–90 record that season), Trout’s 2019 was so dominant that he won a third career AL MVP award.