His height was overshadowed by his teammates as well as Aaron JudgeImage: Getty Images
Mike Trout missed 43 games this season, most of them through injuries. Whether it was a rare back condition or a chest infection, the three-time MVP had to sit out a significant amount of time in 2022. Despite all the time, Trout was undoubtedly a top five player in the American League. He quietly hit 40 homers — second in the American League — and 70 extra base hits — tied third. However, the AL MVP voters would make you think otherwise.
In 2022, Trout finished eighth in AL MVP voting, marking his lowest finish ever for the award in a season in which he played enough games to qualify. In fact, in every season that the star outfielder had qualified for the award, this was the first time he didn’t make the top 5 in AL MVP voting. He finished fourth in 2017, when Trout played in just 114 games and recorded fewer home runs, fewer RBI, fewer hits, a lower slugging percentage and fewer extra base hits per record.
Well, there are factors that contribute to this. For one thing, Ohtani wasn’t there in 2017. His rookie season was in 2018 and his breakout season wasn’t until 2021. Trout didn’t have to contend with a two-way phenomenon five years ago. He also didn’t have to compete with someone who hit 62 home runs. That’s just impossible. So I’m not saying Trout should have won the award or anything, but I do understand that the competition in 2022 is a lot tougher than it was in 2017. Still, the 10-time All-Star deserved to finish in fifth place.
This obviously hasn’t been Trout’s best season. The New Jersey native’s walk rate has dropped significantly since his last full season in 2019, and his strikeout rate has also increased significantly since then. Still, this was Trout’s best season in terms of raw power. His 2022 home run percentage (eight percent) was the highest of his career. His extra base hit rate (15.98 percent) was the highest of his career. His slugging percentage (.630) was the second-highest of his career. All in all, there’s no denying that 2022 was one of Trout’s best seasons in terms of raw performance, and by any measure in that category, the former Rookie of the Year was a top 5, maybe even a top 3 player in the American League. So where might voters have decided that Trout is unworthy of recognition in the top five?
The only logical explanation would be that Trout’s total is nowhere near the number of people who landed above him. However, that is not true either. While Trout ranks last in hits (124) among the seven people who finish ahead of him in the AL MVP poll. Um… oh, that’s it. Trout did not finish dead-bottom in any other category, not even in the cumulative categories like WAR (6.3 – fifth out of the eight who finished above him in MVP voting), Walks (54 – sixth), RBI (80 – fifth and while you might think this is due to his place in the Angels’ lineup, he’s spent 428 of his at-bats this season hitting from the 2-hole, which isn’t as prime an RBI place as the 5-or 6 hole, which is where Andrés Giménez of Cleveland spent most of his time).
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The only place where the Millville Miracle really didn’t live up to the standards of its AL MVP peers was in the Stolen Base category. Trout only had one in 2022. In fairness, his stolen base numbers are down drastically compared to earlier in his career. But how much has Trout’s lack of stolen bases actually affected his team’s chances of scoring? Trout’s run-scoring percentage was 31 percent in 2022 – meaning he scored 31 percent of the time he made base. Considering LA ranked 15th in team slugging percentage this season, we can assume the Angels not only hit extremely well behind Trout and easily smashed him in without their star having to do much work . Sure, he might have had a little more help than Rodríguez, Ramírez, or Giménez (17th and 23rd in MLB, respectively), but Judge, Alvarez, and Altuve each had better teammates batting behind them. Let’s see how Trout fares:
2022 Run Scoring Percentage:
Altuve: 36 percent Rodríguez: 34 percent Trout: 31 percent Richter: 31 percent Alvarez: 30 percent Ramírez: 29 percent Ohtani: 28 percent Giménez: 26 percent
Huh, it’s almost like being a prolific base stealer only marginally helps your team score runs. Basically, Trout’s lack of ability to steal bases shouldn’t affect his value in the eyes of MVP voters. When push comes to shove, Trout can rush. Among players with at least 100 competitive sprints in 2022, Trout ranked 15th in average sprint speed (29.4 feet per second). The only player before him in this category who also finished ahead of him in MVP voting was Rodríguez (29.8 – sixth in MLB). This basepath speed is very effective regardless of the ability to steal bases, and that’s why Trout came around to score so many times, although he doesn’t steal bases as often as his peers.
Yes, there will be some bias in voting based on the success of a player’s team. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. The Angels weren’t doing well while every other team featured among those eight players made the playoffs. However, there’s no denying that Trout was a top five player in the American League this year, and I wish he was recognized as such. I believe much of this result is due to voter fatigue. Voters were tired of putting Trout’s name at the top and were looking for a reason to drop him from their top five, and his missing 43 games was reason enough. It’s a shame.