There’s a once in a generation superstar currently residing in the MLB. You know the type. The five-tool player that can do it all. The one that with every swing you hold your breath, whether he’s the one swinging the bat or the one about to make the play. The one that gets you to come to a random Tuesday night game because he’s playing against your team, even though you have to work tomorrow. He’s currently on the Los Angeles Angels. He used to be Mike Trout, but now he’s Shohei Ohtani.
Baseball fans have known this was coming for a long time, that is, the moment that Shohei Ohtani became the face of the league, the best overall player, surpassing his Angels teammate for the role. Even though we’ve all probably known this for over a year, it didn’t become gospel until the World Baseball Classic.
It was a moment that every baseball fan relished in, seeing two of the games top players who they’d never see otherwise playing against each other because they’re on the same Angels team. It was a palpable moment, full of the situational circumstances you dream about when you’re a kid — bottom of the ninth, one run game, full count. Japan was up 3-2 on the USA.
In six pitches Mike Trout never touched Ohtani, thus securing the victory over USA and the WBC championship. Whether it was his fastball that made it well past ludicrous speed — 101.6 mph — or his wicked, exorcist needing slider, Trout never had an answer.
As Ohtani was there on the podium, celebrating Japan’s victory over the USA in the WBC, he wasn’t just holding both the championship and MVP trophies he had earned. He was holding the torch Trout passed to him.
Ohtani, 28, is just two years younger than Trout, 30. It’s not as if Trout is ancient by any means. He still has a lot of great baseball left in him. It’s that Ohtani is doing things that Trout can never nor would ever do.
Offensively, the two teammates aren’t far apart from each other. Both hit for power and for average. Defensively is where they are vastly different. Trout has won four gold gloves during his career as an outfielder. Ohtani can play the outfield, but he could also be a Cy Young candidate — which in the modern era is just astonishing. That’s where Ohtani has separated himself from everybody and earned the countless Babe Ruth comparisons along the way.
What has also hurt Trout, though, are his injuries. For as productive as he’s been, he’s nearly been as injured. And it’s all been in his late 20s. From 2017-2021, he missed about 24% of his games, according to The Ringer. Last year, he missed 43 games with a rare back condition, yet he still knocked 40 balls out of the ballpark.
Trout is also not the showman that Ohtani is. Ohtani seems welcoming to the idea of stardom, whereas Trout has never been one to market himself, which is what disappointed MLB commissioner Rob Manfred back in 2018.
Since Ohtani threw that sweeping slider to strike out Trout in the WBC, it’s as if baseball has forgotten about Trout. He’s still doing pretty typical Trout things: .288/.361/888 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI. In comparison, here are Ohtani’s numbers: .292/.362/.542 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI. But he’s also 5-1 with a 3.23 ERA.
The dynamic duo played a big part in the Angels splitting the recent series with the soaring Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. Both homered, with Trout hitting two home runs in as many days after going a week and half without. He was also in the midst of an extended slump where he hit just .185 over his last 14 games until Thursday.
Troutani Making Noise Again 🤩✅
Mike Trout & Shohei Ohtani both hit home run number 10 in Baltimore today. 😎
Credit: Ballys Mark Gubicza Wayne Randazzo 🎙️#Troutani #Angels #Trout #大谷翔平 #Ohtani #LTBU pic.twitter.com/cTJgqaIhmL
— Anaheim Sports (@AnaheimSports1) May 19, 2023
Ohtani will continue to ascend in the league. He’ll keep astonishing crowd and critic alike that sees him. And Trout, likewise, will do what he’s always done on the field — that is until the unwelcomed injury bug bites again. At this point, though, through all the stats, marketing or being on the subpar Angels team they play for that has excluded them from the postseason, it’s really about trust.
Trout hasn’t done what most thought he would do with the Angels, which is get them to the postseason. Him and Pujols couldn’t do it. Now, it seems that him and Ohtani may not be able to do it. Again, is that due to other issues that go through the Angels front office? Without question. But when you’re considered one of the best to ever play the game and don’t even get to play in the playoffs but once in your career, that’s where a disconnect occurs. As unfair as it is, maybe Trout is becoming forgotten because most don’t know how long he’ll be there before he’s gone again.