Mike Trout is on pace to win his fourth MVP in 2021 through his first month and a half. He is leading the league in OPS (1.150), OBP (.477), and SLG (.673), while also being third in AVG (.355). So far, Mike Trout is far and away the best player in the American League. The only thing that would keep him from winning the award is voter fatigue and lack of team success. However, Mike Trout’s success so far will not keep up to those extreme numbers. You can’t really say Mike Trout will struggle because he is still the best player in baseball. Despite him still being uber-talented, we have not been talking about Mike Trout’s luck in 2021 enough so far. He wouldn’t be bad, but he also wouldn’t be MVP right now without it.
Rather be Lucky than Good?
If there was one word to describe Mike Trout this season, it would be aggressive. Mike Trout is going after the first pitch at a rate 7% higher than normal throughout his career. He is also swinging in general much more often, which isn’t always a bad thing.
At the time of writing, Mike Trout is putting the ball in play about 60 % of the time. This is actually less than his normal percentage, which is around 74 %. However, when Mike Trout does put the ball in play, he gets on base way more than he should. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls Per Play) is .484, which is a number that is impossible to stay for the entire season. For reference, the year that Ted Williams hit .400, his BABIP was only .378. Such a high BABIP means that Trout is just finding holes in the field at an impossibly high rate, but it does not necessarily mean that he is hitting at his best level, even though his hitting stats may show that. Trout has MVP numbers, but there’s no way he can keep them this good all year long.
I would never bet against Mike Trout, and despite his standard numbers looking better than they have ever been, Mike Trout’s luck is causing his expanded numbers to plummet. Trout is striking out more than he ever has, at a 28% rate. That rate is still not bad, but it’s not Mike Trout-good. The 8x all-star is also whiffing at an unusually high rate, especially at pitches in the zone. All in all, there’s just less contact coming from Trout than normal. And when he is putting the ball in play, he is relying on flares a lot more often. His power is still there, but the lack of hard-line drives can definitely provide concern.
There isn’t much I can say though, he is still Mike Trout. No matter what the stats say, and no matter whether he whiffs more or strikes out more, the 8-time silver slugger is the best player in baseball. Not only that, but he is coming for the GOAT crown quickly.
Give him the Crown
Although the BABIT of the superstar has proven him to be lucky, there are a few reasons why that may not be true. The first being the small sample size, Mike Trout’s luck has only taken place through 32 games, and he may just be on a hot streak right now. He is also barreling the baseball at a higher rate than ever before and it’s leading to hard-hit balls. Everyone knows if you hit the ball hard in play good things can happen. It may not be Mike Trout’s luck that’s causing such high success, but he’s just been even better than normal. He is still walking at an elite level and playing great defense. The best player in baseball may just have luck right now, or he may be having his best season yet.
For the rest of 2021, I expect Trout to continue to play at an MVP-caliber level. His numbers will naturally decline slightly because even if it isn’t luck, his BABIT can’t stay that high. Trout very well may be having his best season yet though, and even if he is striking out more, he is also hitting balls consistently harder than ever before. My rough predictions for Trout’s final stats are as follows: .331 BA (career-high), 36 HR (result of lowest career launch angle), 88 RBI, 1.090 OPS. Whether he is lucky, regressing, or having the best season of his life, Trout will continue to prove his dominance. The Angels’ star next item on the checklist? Playoffs.
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