Mike Trout has performed fairly well while on the field in recent seasons. The issue is that the Los Angeles Angels superstar has not appeared in more than 130 games in a season since 2019. Additionally, his overall performance has seen a decline in recent years.

Trout was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2021, 2022, and 2023. In 2021, Trout appeared in just 36 games. He recorded impressive numbers in 2022 across 119 games played. Still, his numbers declined from his pre-2019 statistics. In 2023, the three-time MVP slashed just .263/.367/.490/.858 across 82 games played.

Of course, battling injuries makes it difficult to find consistency at the plate. You need to be on the field in order to truly find your rhythm. Trout, though, did not look like himself in 2023 even when healthy.

Sure, he still made the All-Star team. He recorded numbers that most players would dream of having. But this is Mike Trout we are talking about, a player who was once regarded as the best player in the sport without question.

Perhaps I am overreacting, but it looks like Trout has found his form once again in 2024. It goes without saying, but staying healthy will be of the utmost importance.

Trout entered the '24 campaign with lofty aspirations, and so far he looks like an American League MVP candidate.

Overreaction or not? Mike Trout is going to win the AL MVP

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at Trout's surface and underlying numbers through his first 16 games played in 2024.

Overall, the Angels slugger is slashing .290/.362/.710/1.072. He has crushed a league-leading seven home runs as well. That is the kind of start that is reminiscent of Trout's prime, when he was constantly among the league leaders in OPS and OPS+.

So is Trout's start for real? The underlying numbers support his case for making an MVP run in 2024… for the most part.

Trout is striking out less than 19 percent of the time in 2024, per Baseball Reference. The last time he struck out less than 20 percent in a season was 2017. From 2021-2023, Trout struck out in 27 percent of his plate appearances or more in each season.

So it is clear he's made an effort to limit strikeouts while not sacrificing his power. In fact, Trout hit the ball in the air just 32 percent of the time in 2023. So far in 2024, the Angels outfielder has recorded a fly-bate rate of 42.9 percent. And given his strength, anytime Trout hits the ball in the air it is going to have a chance to go over the fence.

As a result, he has cut his ground ball rate down from 33.5 percent in 2023 to 26.5 percent in 2024.

With all of that being said, there are some reasons for concern. Trout has recorded a hard-hit rate of at least 50 percent in each season since 2019. Even in his down years, Trout was still hitting the ball hard. In 2024 so far, Trout is hitting the ball hard just 36.7 percent of the time.

He is also drawing less walks, which is not incredibly surprising since the Angels other superstar, Shohei Ohtani, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason. Still, Trout's current 8.7 percent walk rate would be the lowest of his career since 2011, when he appeared in only 40 games.

Nevertheless, Trout is still displaying signs of being on the verge of an MVP season and the Angels are taking notice.

Angels believe in Trout

The Halos understand how talented of a baseball player Mike Trout is. Trout most recently went 2-5 with a home run on Monday, which ultimately led the Angels to a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

His presence is really important even when his performance isn’t there,” Ron Washington, the manager of the Angels, said of Trout, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. “He’s a very present guy. Tonight we needed a big one at the right time and he came through and then it opened it up for everyone else.”

Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval added that the team always feels good “when No. 27 (Trout's jersey number) is up there.”

Mike Trout's primary goal is to lead the Angels to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Perhaps he will earn the fourth MVP award of his career as well during the 2024 campaign.