Few people would argue against the notion that Mike Trout is the best player in Major League Baseball.
Candidly, you could even argue that Trout is on a trajectory that would make him the greatest player of all time.
The 29-year-old has spent his entire 11-year career with the Los Angeles Angels, and has finished in the top-five of the MVP race every single season (excluding when he debuted in 2011 and appeared in only 40 games).
Active OPS+ leaders (min. 1,000 career PA):
1) Mike Trout • 176 OPS+
2) Aaron Judge • 153
3) Juan Soto • 151
4) Joey Votto • 147
5) Miguel Cabrera • 146
6) Albert Pujols • 145
7) Giancarlo Stanton • 144
8) Alex Bregman • 142
t-9) Bellinger & Goldschmidt • 140
— Jim Passon (@PassonJim) May 25, 2021
His greatness is indisputable, but the unfathomable side of his story is that the Angels have made the playoffs just one time during Trout’s decade with the team.
It came in 2014, and the run ended quickly with an ALDS exit.
For years, baseball fans have longed to see Trout play for a perennial playoff contending team, and it looked like that was a possibility a couple years ago when he was approaching free agency.
But instead, in March of 2019, Trout inked a historic contract extension with the Angels.
It was a 12-year, $430 million deal which will keep him with the team through 2030.
Needless to say, Trout will be spending the remainder of his prime years with the Angels.
The fate of whether baseball fans will ever get to experience Trout in the playoffs again lies in the hands of the Angels’ front office.
So Did He Make the Right Decision?
It’s no secret that the Angels are one of the more poorly-run franchises in baseball.
To refuse to build a contending team around a generational talent like Trout is baffling in every sense of the word.
That’s not to take anything away from Shohei Ohtani, who is arguably the second-most valuable player in the league behind Trout.
But this isn’t the NBA where one or two star players can carry a team to a playoff berth.
There is a long list of issues regarding how the team is currently constructed.
The Angels have a laughable pitching staff which has been the case for years.
This season, the staff ranks 30th in the Majors in team ERA with a 5.25 mark.
The Angels team ERA (5.28) is more than twice as high as the Padres (2.60).
— trevor (@McBainsGoggles) May 23, 2021
On offense, six out of the Angels’ nine everyday players have a below-average OPS+.
But again, the question we’re looking to answer is whether Trout made the right choice in staying.
And at the end of the day, it’s not up for us to decide.
What’s important to Mike Trout might not be what’s important to fans and the media.
If Trout loves the LA area and is happy with his situation on the Angels, then he’s likely happy with his choice.
If financial stability is what’s important to Trout, then he’s certainly happy with his choice.
But if winning is what’s important to Trout, then it’s hard to imagine that he’s satisfied.
We’ll see if the Angels are able to produce a contending product in 2022 or 2023, but it’s not something that happens magically.
The team is going to have to invest in proven players even if that means doing so on a multi-year deal, which is something the Angels have shied away from in recent seasons.