One of the aspects of Mike Trout's greatness has been his durability. In his first five seasons in the majors, he missed just 19 games. Now, in the midst of his best season yet, he heads to the disabled list for the first time in his career with a torn ligament in his left thumb suffered on Sunday while attempting to steal second base.
Mike Trout out multiple weeks with torn thumb ligament— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2017
Leads MLB 3.5 WAR
Trout: .337 BA, .461 OBP
Other Angels: .226 BA, .298 OBP
Trout will need surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, according to the Los Angeles Angels. They might have been able to survive two weeks without Trout, but they can't survive two months without him, considering they look like a fringe wild-card contender, at best, when he is in the lineup.
As the numbers above show, without Trout the Angels might have the worst offense in the American League. With Kole Calhoun off to a slow start, the only above-average hitter in the lineup other than Trout has been Cameron Maybin, who suddenly has decided to start taking walks, helping himself to a .370 OBP. Albert Pujols is closing in on 600 home runs, but he's a shell even of his early days with the Angels, hitting a terrible .249/.297/.381 entering Monday's game. C.J. Cron was supposed to be a power source, but he was so bad, he's in the minors.
Minus Trout, you're looking at Ben Revere (.235 OBP) getting more playing time. He's a replacement-level player, at best (and below one, so far), so we're talking about three to four wins of value being lost. With Trout, FanGraphs projected the Angels to finish 79-83, with playoff odds of 15 percent. Those odds probably dip below 10 percent with a lengthy DL stint.
From a statistical perspective, we'll miss Trout's run at a third MVP award. He has finished first or second in the voting during all five of his seasons, and with a .337/.461/.742 line, he was in line for not just another top finish, but possibly one of the best offensive seasons in a long time. During the expansion era, only six times has a player finished with a higher OPS than Trout's current 1.203 mark (four of those by Barry Bonds, one by Mark McGwire and one by Frank Thomas). As detailed here last week, a more aggressive approach early in the count seemed to indicate his numbers were more than just a hot start.
Trout's injury is a reminder of why Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are two of the top five players of all time. From 1954 to 1966, Mays played at least 150 games every season, with most of those coming when the schedule was 154 games. Aaron played at least 150 games every season from 1955 to 1970, except two, when he played 145 and 147. Trout's thumb injury is hopefully just a one-time freak accident, but it shows us that the only thing likely keeping him from joining Mays and Aaron as an inner-circle great is injuries.
Make baseball fun again: So Hunter Strickland hit Bryce Harper and Harper charged the mound, punches were exchanged and we'll probably get some suspensions. I wrote about the fight here and how Buster Posey and other San Francisco Giants teammates' initial reactions clearly revealed what they thought of Strickland's pitch.
Bryce Harper said he knew he had two options.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 30, 2017
He decided not to walk to 1st. pic.twitter.com/Wkmx8AEaVs
An inning to remember: Down 8-2 to the Minnesota Twins, the Astros scored 11 runs in the top of the eighth on their way to a 16-8 victory. Twins manager Paul Molitor managed to not bring in closer Brandon Kintzler as he let the lead slip away. The rally tied the second-biggest inning in Astros history, behind a 12-run inning on May 31, 1975. And get this: The Astros had never won a game in franchise history when they trailed by six-plus runs entering the eighth inning. Not only Bryce Harper can make baseball fun.
From Mark Simon, the Astros' win probability at various points:
• Entering eighth inning, Astros down 8-2: 0.7 percent
• Carlos Correa's RBI single, 8-3: 5.0 percent
• Marwin Gonzalez's two-run single, 8-5: 11.0 percent
• George Springer's RBI single, 8-7: 22.4 percent
• Josh Reddick's two-run double, Astros lead 9-8: 71.2 percent
• Jose Altuve's RBI single, 10-8: 83.4 percent
• Carlos Beltran's three-run HR, 13-8: 97.8 percent
Cody Bellinger homers again: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 behind five innings from Rich Hill and three home runs, including another one from their rookie slugger. Since his recall on April 25, Bellinger has 11 home runs, tied with Trout for most in the majors. Only four players have hit more home runs in their first 32 career games than Bellinger, and that list isn't exactly a sure sign of his future greatness: Jose Abreu, Dave Hostetler, Kevin Maas and Mike Jacobs. Ignore that list! Bellinger is going to be better than at least three guys on that list and probably all four. Get used to this swing:
That's also 10 wins in 12 games for the Dodgers, including five in a row against the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers did place starting pitcher Alex Wood on the DL, however, with inflammation in his left shoulder. Wood was making a run at an All-Star trip, going 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 49 innings. It doesn't appear to be serious, as Dave Roberts called it a "one-start thing." Julio Urias could come back up from Triple-A for a spot start in Wood's place.
David Price makes season debut: I'd call it a so-so first outing for Price, who had made just two rehab outings with shaky results before starting Monday against the Chicago White Sox. His velocity was fine -- he averaged 94.5 mph on his fastball -- but the command wasn't sharp, and he had just one swing-and-miss on his fastball. He hit two batters and issued back-to-back walks in the third inning to light-hitting Adam Engel and walk-averse Tim Anderson. Melky Cabrera, no doubt sitting on a fastball, then followed with a three-run homer over the Green Monster. Price left after five innings with a 4-3 lead, but the White Sox scored twice in the seventh off Matt Barnes to win 5-4.
Quick thoughts ... Good to see Andrew McCutchen did something positive as he hit a walk-off home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates (after Chris Iannetta had tied the score for the Arizona Diamondbacks with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth). McCutchen tied Ralph Kiner and Willie Stargell with six walk-off homers, most in franchise history. ... Welcome back, Adrian Beltre. Joey Gallo moved to first base with Beltre's return -- and belted another home run, a rocket to right field measured as the seventh-hardest home run of the Statcast era. Gallo has 34 hits, 16 of them home runs, which is some kind of wonderful. ... Shoutout to J.D. Martinez, who has been on fire since returning from the DL. He has eight home runs in 17 games. For some reason, Brad Ausmus continues to bat him behind Victor Martinez. With the Detroit Tigers under .500, J.D. could be interesting trade bait in July. ... Aaron Judge hit his 17th home run. Most by a rookie by the end of May: Mark McGwire with 19 in 1987. ... Judge and Gallo are tied for the MLB lead with eight home runs of 425-plus feet. No surprise there. ... One of the silliest things is Ned Yost continuing to hit Alcides Escobar leadoff (.206 OBP). ... The Cincinnati Reds might have pitched the worst game of the year, as the Toronto Blue Jays pounded out 23 hits, including 20 off the bullpen. The Reds also issued seven walks and recorded just one strikeout.