Mike Trout’s Championship Window Is Closing

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Mike Trout is arguably the best player this generation has ever seen. For the past eleven years, Trout has been a once-in-a-generation talent. Since entering the league in 2011 he has been in the top five for the most valuable player for nine of those years. He has won the award three times in his career and won rookie of the year in 2012. He has made 10 all-star teams and has won eight silver slugger awards. The number of awards Trout has won has already made him a sure-fire hall of fame candidate.

In his illustrious career so far, Trout is missing one key aspect to his stellar career, and that is winning when it counts. Trout has only made the playoffs in his career which was back in 2014 where they got swept by the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series. For such a star player Trout has never had the team surrounding him to get him to the coveted World Series. With Trout now being 30 years old he has now entered the latter stages of his career which can start the questions of how many years left can it be possible for him to make a championship run.

Why Have the Angels Not Been Able to Make the World Series

The straightforward answer is that Mike Trout has never had enough pieces around him to get to the promised land. Trout has been a one-man wrecking crew trying to carry his team each year without getting the help he needed.
The starting lineup for the Angels in 2014 included big names like Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun, David Freese, and Josh Hamilton. These players in their prime would destroy opposing pitching. Especially, Pujols and Hamilton that once led their respected leagues in home runs. However, as they aged both of their consistency fell off which put more on Trout’s shoulders to carry the team.

The pitching staff included Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver. All these pitchers were decent options but none of them was a true ace. Not having a true ace in the rotation makes it extremely hard to compete in a series let alone win it.

What made it hard for the Angels to get young stars was the outlandish contracts they were giving players toward the tail ends of their careers. Take Albert Pujols for example, the Angels signed him in 2011 at 31 years old to a 10-year 254-million-dollar contract. Pujols is a very good player but signing him until he is 41 years old looks a lot of money for one player. By giving this much money to Pujols it did not allow them to give money to an ace to help carry them through the postseason.

Being in One of the Strongest Divisions in the MLB

Another key contributor that has not helped the Angels is how tough the American League West has been. Houston and Oakland have been two teams that have run the division since Trout has entered the league.

Houston has been one of the most dominant teams in the league with their core players of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Justin Verlander, and many other stars. In their championship season in 2017, they had 101 wins and were able to outlast the Dodgers.

The way the Astros were built they had young stars that were supported by veteran leadership that helped them win in key moments. The Angels have not been able to find that. When Trout was young in the league, he was surrounded by too many veteran players that were on the decline of their careers.

Oakland has also been a consistent playoff team during Trout’s tenure. They have been built through the farm system, and every year they have a new player that no one has heard of developing to become a star.

One thing that both teams have been able to successfully have that the Angels have not been able to find has been their pitching staff. Houston has had the opportunity to have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole who have been stars in the league for years. Oakland does not have big-name pitchers but has had consistent starters including Sean Manaea, Scott Kazmir, and Jeff Samardzija. By having consistent starters along with a potent offense both the Astros and Athletics have been able to make the playoffs and succeed. The Angels have had a hard time finding any consistency in any of their starting pitchers putting more pressure on the offense to produce more runs.

How Can the Angels Become Contenders?

The focus in this offseason is to help Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon as much as possible. With Ohtani becoming a free agent in 2023 it is important to make winnow moves. That starts with getting starting pitching to help their young rookies.

In 2021, Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers should promise as they made their major league debuts. Sadly, Sandoval got hurt halfway through the season which put him on the 60-day injured list. Detmers had a few good starts, but he came up too late in the season to see what true potential is.

What would help the team in 2022 is getting a big-name starting pitcher that would give opposing teams something to worry about. A few options that could help would be players like Robbie Ray, who is one of the American League Cy Young nominees, or Kevin Gausman who had a breakout season in 2021. Both pitchers would be perfect fits for this team to win right now because it puts an ace in the rotation.

They also become contenders by making sure they stay healthy throughout the year. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are two important pieces to the lineup, and it showed this year. Both players were out for significant time this year which hindered their ability to score enough runs for the Angels.

By adding key contributors to help stars Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani gives the Angels a chance to compete quickly. However, if they make controversial signings or do not make any significant moves to improve the roster it is going to be extremely difficult for this team to make the playoffs, let alone get to the World Series.

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Justin Oosterwyk has been a writer for Overtime Heroics for the past year. He has been focusing on the Los Angeles Angels but has also written other Major League baseball articles. His favorite team is the New York Yankees, and his favorite player of all time is Mark Teixeira.