Baseball

How to Compete with Trout and Ohtani

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Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are two stars in the MLB that have so much potential together but due to injury the two of them have yet to truly play with one another for a full year. Trout has been an all-star center fielder since breaking into the league in 2011. Being in the top five for MVP since 2012 and winning the award three times. Ohtani since coming to the Major Leagues has been nothing but spectacular, especially this year being a front runner in the MVP race. Ohtani has been described as the second coming of Babe Ruth with him being the Angel’s best starting pitcher on the staff but also has been leading the league in home runs for the majority of the league. He is currently sitting in third place with 45 home runs and is one behind the leaders Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Salvador Perez sitting at the top with 46 home runs. By having both of these superstars in the lineup there are residual effects that cause strengths and weaknesses to the team.

Strengths of Having Mike Trout in the Lineup

Trout and Ohtani make it challenging for any team to prepare for. Trout has been a model of consistency when he is in the lineup. For his career, Trout has a batting average of .305, an on-base percentage of .419, and a slugging percentage of .583. These three stats trump many of the players in the league making him a star in the league.

Looking at his advanced stats, in his 11 years with the Angels he would have an extra-base hit 56% of the time. With a spark in the offense, he can score runs or already be on second or third base so his teammates can drive him in. In addition, in his career he only 21.5 percent of the time. This stat shows that he is always making contact which allows driving runs in.

Even this year with him being injured for more than half the year he still had impressive numbers. In the 36 games, he played he had eight home runs, 18 runs batted in, and still had a batting average of .333. His presence in the lineup makes pitchers think of ways to make sure that Trout does not contact the ball which is extremely hard to do.

Once on base, Trout can do damage with his speed. Trout this past year only had two steals but because of his injuries he was not able to but up his usual steal numbers. . But in 2019, he had 11 steals and only got caught twice. Now, this is not a staggering stat but the threat of having speed on the base paths may affect how the pitcher pitches to the next batter.

Defensively he is one of the best in the league in center field. For his career in centerfield, his field percentage is 94.4%. Field percentage is measured by putouts plus assists divided by putouts plus assists plus errors. In his 11 years in centerfield, he has committed 16 errors which shows his immaculate defensive skills.

Overall, Mike Trout makes the Angels a much deeper lineup with all the skill sets he can utilize. Between getting on base, scoring runs, and his defense there is no doubt why experts call him one of the best.

Strengths of Having Shohei Ohtani in the Lineup

Shohei Ohtani is Robin to Mike Trout’s Batman. Ohtani most nights hits right behind Trout causing havoc for opposing pitchers. This is because if you manage to get Trout out, you have to deal with Ohtani who has the potential to go yard every at-bat.

Ohtani’s 2021 campaign has been one for the ages, between his offensive stats and his pitching stats. According to Baseball-Reference this season Ohtani has 45 home runs, 94 runs batted in, 23 stolen bases while batting .257. On the mound, he has produced a 9-2 record with a 3.28 earned run average in 123 innings.

Let’s start with Ohtani’s hitting capabilities. When he first came over to the major leagues from Japan, Ohtani was touted for his home run hitting capability. In his first three years in the league, he had okay numbers hitting a total of 47 home runs over his first three years. This year however his numbers have skyrocketed and have led the Angels offense this season and almost match his home run totals in one year. This season his wins above replacement this season is 4.5 games ranking him among the top thirty in the league.

Now looking at his stats on the mound Ohtani was the most reliable pitcher the Angels have had all year. The other starting pitchers the Angels have including Dylan Bundy, who is currently on the 10-day injured list, has a 6.06 ERA, Griffin Canning who has a 5.60 ERA, with Alex Cobb having the next lowest ERA is 3.59. At one point, rookie Patrick Sandoval looked like a promising starting pitcher but hit the 60-day injured list with a lower back stress fracture. With all these problems in the starting rotation, Ohtani showed to be a true star in the rotation.

By being able to bring the power numbers up to what everyone was expecting when he came from Japan and becoming an ace in the Angels rotation it makes Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani a powerful combination.

Weakness: Injuries, Injuries, Injuries

Statistically, between the two of them, there are not many weaknesses. As stated above both players in the lineup is a powerful duo of contact hitting, power-hitting, speed, and on-base percentage.

However, one of the main weaknesses for both players is that they have both been injury prone. Trout has had less severe injuries than Ohtani but both players have had injured list appearances the past four years that have kept them out of multiple games.

In 2017, Trout missed 39 games with a torn ligament in his thumb. In 2018, he missed 19 games due to wrist inflammation, and in 2019 he missed 19 games after having foot surgery.

This year, Trout has been riddled with injuries this season. The main injury that has benched Trout the whole second half of the season has been because of a nagging calf strain that has benched him since May 17th. He has been doing consistent rehab however has experienced continual soreness which has led the team to shut him down for the rest of the 2021 campaign.

Ohtani has experienced multiple injuries in his time in the major leagues. In his rookie year in 2018, Ohtani had a grade two ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain in his pitching arm that caused him to go to the injured list. This limited his ability to be able to pitch during his rookie year. Towards the end of 2019, Ohtani had a knee injury that required surgery taking him out of the lineup. And even this season he had to stop pitching due to arm soreness. The lack of durability has affected his statistics and how the team has performed.

Between these injuries, Trout and Ohtani have not had the performances that fans expected when both players were signed to play together.

Weakness: Ohtani Having to be the Ace in the Rotation

As we have seen Ohtani is the best pitcher the Angels have currently. This is great for their organization, but it leaves him more susceptible to injuries like the injury he suffered in his rookie season.

With Trout being hurt the whole season and Anthony Rendon not living up to expectations and then getting hurt, Ohtani has had to carry the team throughout the season.

The Angels need to investigate signing or trading for a more high-quality starting pitcher so that there is a weight off Ohtani’s shoulders. We have seen as this season has progressed his stats are not as out of this world like they were in the first half of the season.

Other factors could contribute to this like playing a full 162 game schedule compared to having a 60-game schedule last season. But getting help in the rotation would limit the amount on Ohtani’s shoulders so that he can excel in both the pitching and hitting aspects of his game.

Having Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the lineup is an overall strength because of how much talent they have. It will be exciting to watch when Trout and Rendon are back from their injuries to see what kind of offense of numbers this team can produce next year.

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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