The world’s best baseball player professed a self-esteem deficiency Wednesday.
“I gotta get my confidence back,” Angels center fielder Mike Trout said. “The last couple years, my confidence has been down.”
Trout, 24, talked not of his overall game but one part of it: base-stealing. He attempted only five steals in the second half of 2015, the same number as plodding teammate Albert Pujols, and he has repeatedly said he wants to do more.
Wednesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium was the first time he acknowledged his mind-set as a reason for the stark decrease from 49 stolen bases in 2012 to 11 in 2015. And the Angels said the same on the first day of full-squad workouts.
“A lot of it comes down to Mike’s evolution,” Manager Mike Scioscia said, “and getting that confidence back.”
Said Trout: “I gotta get back to the way it used to be.”
The way it used to be and the way it is now are both acceptable approaches. Scioscia and many members of the Angels organization do not much mind if Trout’s evolution includes base-stealing extinction. He is valuable enough without any added value there.
And, of course, there exists the possibility that Trout’s stealing could distract Pujols’ hitting behind him.
“We try to make each other both comfortable when we’re at the plate,” Trout said. “Obviously, you don’t want to distract nobody.”
But Trout is unwilling to accept mediocrity. He tried to steal only 18 times each of the last two seasons. He wants to try more often in 2016, disregarding any increased injury risk that may accompany added attempts.
“I’m young, man,” he said. “I play hard. You can’t worry about injuries.”
He said something similar last spring. After another MVP-caliber campaign in 2015, his off-season exercise routine was the same. He’d meet trainer Dan Richter at home in Millville, N.J., for two hours, from 8:30-10:30 p.m.
‘I’d just work out, get in the shower, and go to bed,” Trout said.
Since his first full season, 2012, Trout has led all major leaguers in wins above replacement, with 37.8. His closest competition is Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, at 29.3. The closest position player is Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, at 27.9.
By WAR, Trout has been more than 20% better than any other major leaguer. He knows what WAR’s initials represent but has yet to gather any more information about it or any advanced metric.
“I’ve been here a couple years now, and I still haven’t figured out what all that stuff means,” he said.
This off-season, the popular thought about the Angels became that the organization was wasting Trout’s prime.
Pujols acknowledged this week their roster doesn’t look “too good” on paper but still stated his World Series goal; Trout would not say whether he was surprised the team did not sign a prominent left fielder.
“I just look at the guys we have now, and I go with that,” Trout said. “If we don’t make the playoffs, it’s a failure.”
Trout was amusing last month when he appeared on the Weather Channel during a Northeast snowstorm. In a live phone interview, he excitedly told host Jim Cantore he had gotten out of bed hourly overnight to check the latest measurements.
“My girlfriend tells me that I’m crazy,” Trout said. “I like this stuff, man. I like thunderstorms. Tornados are bad because they wipe out towns and cities, but I enjoy watching them.”
Trout has been a weather enthusiast since he was young. His father, Jeff, loved snowstorms, and so he did too. Checking the elements is a daily hobby.
“Obviously, I’ve got every radar website there is to get information,” Trout said.
Soon, Trout expects to receive Cantore’s thank-you gift for his television participation: weather balloons he can send into the sky to advance his amateur meteorology further.
“I’m really excited,” he said.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura