The 18-23 Angels have struggled to stay afloat even with Trout, and now they’re going to have grind out two difficult months without him to stay in the postseason conversation.
In order to do so, several players will have to step up and recreate Trout’s production in the aggregate.
Mike Trout (right calf strain) is expected to miss 6-8 weeks
The Angels are placing him on the 10-day IL pic.twitter.com/ofMzUj1CWR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 18, 2021
No. 3: Justin Upton
It’s no secret that Justin Upton’s best years are likely behind him, but the Angels are going to need the veteran to channel some of his better days while Trout is on the shelf.
This year, the only thing Upton is doing at a serviceable level is hitting for power.
He has seven home runs already to complement a decent .398 slugging clip, but with a .195 average and .270 OBP, it’s hard to spin Upton’s overall season in a positive light.
If he wants to make a positive impact for this 2021 squad, he could start by putting together a solid couple of months in Trout’s absence.
No. 2: Anthony Rendon
We know what Anthony Rendon can be.
Over his four most recent completed seasons spanning from 2017-2020, Rendon batted .307 with a .949 OPS while averaging 23 home runs per year.
Rendon received MVP votes in each of those seasons, finishing as high as third in the race in 2018 (he had a phenomenal 7.2 WAR that year).
This season, Rendon has not been bad by any means, but he certainly hasn’t been the MVP candidate that he’s grown accustomed to being.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old has a .273 batting average, .345 on-base percentage and .416 slugging percentage.
He also has an OPS+ of 111, which is above league average.
All fine, but Rendon certainly could improve.
He missed time already this season with a knee injury, which is a valid excuse as to why he’s been slightly slow out of the gate.
Tuesday’s game against the Indians—a loss—was just Rendon’s fifth since his IL stint.
He’s 5-for-16 (.313) since returning.
We’ll see if he’s able to play a big role while Trout is sidelined.
No. 1: Taylor Ward
Taylor Ward makes the list for one big reason: he’s going to fill Trout’s role as the starting center-fielder.
#Angels OF Mike Trout will miss 6-8 weeks with a right-calf strain. Trout was having a hot start to the year again hitting .333 with 8 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 23 runs, 18 RBI, and 2 SB in 36 games.
— editsandnews (@edits_and_news) May 19, 2021
Ward exceeded rookie limits during the 2018 season, but he’s still largely regarded as a developing prospect.
He’s yet to play more than 40 games in a season at the Major League level.
Ward was underwhelming in 2018 and 2019, batting under the Mendoza line to go along poor on-base and slugging numbers (combined, he slashed .181/.333/.590 over the two seasons).
We did see flashes of potential from Ward in 2020, however.
Over 40 games, he batted .277 with a .716 OPS.
That was the only year of Ward’s career so far that he’s been able to post a positive WAR: a humble 0.1 mark.
Tuesday was Ward’s first start since it was announced that Trout was expected to miss significant time, and he went 0-for-4.
That puts him at 7-for-43 on the 2021 season, good for a .163 batting clip.
It should be noted that Ward had an outstanding 2019 season for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
Over 106 games there, Ward crushed the ball, going deep 27 times and adding 34 doubles.
He batted .306 with a 1.011 OPS.
Most would agree that he has a high ceiling, but it hasn’t translated at the Major League level yet.
Needless to say, the Angels will have a very rough couple of months without Trout if his replacement is unable to get anything going at the plate.