Mike Trout’s power surge for Angels coincides with the birth of his son
Fatherhood seems to suit Mike Trout. In his first seven games since his son, Beckham Aaron Trout, was born July 30, the Angels center fielder has hit .367 (11 for 30) with a 1.373 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, six homers, 10 runs batted in and nine runs.
“People ask me about this dad power — I guess it’s a thing,” Trout said after hitting two homers, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth inning, and two singles in a 10-9 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
“I don’t feel any different. The only thing different is going home and seeing your kid, which is pretty exciting. There’s no better feeling than being a father, I’ll tell you that.”
Trout, a three-time American League most valuable player, was so concerned about catching the coronavirus and possibly infecting his pregnant wife, Jessica, that he strongly considered opting out of the 2020 season.
He grew comfortable enough with baseball’s health-and-safety protocols and the seriousness with which the Angels appeared to be taking them in July to open the season, though he did miss four games for the birth of his first child.
In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks that have interrupted the season for three teams, MLB is considering whether to move the postseason into a bubble.
Since Trout returned Aug. 4, the start of a six-game trip to Seattle and Texas, Angels manager Joe Maddon has noticed a slight change in the demeanor of the eight-time All-Star.
“He’s definitely got to be more relaxed,” Maddon said late Monday night. “You know it was such a big concern of him and his wife, regarding the birth and the virus and everything else surrounding it, so he’s coming out the other side of that, and he’s playing with more mental freedom.”
Trout admitted feeling a sense of relief after Beckham was born.
“It is [a relief] because leading up to it, I was worried about this virus,” Trout, who turned 29 on Friday, said. “I’m still worried about it with a newborn at home, but having a newborn son who’s healthy is big for me. I didn’t want to bring the virus home to my pregnant wife. We got through that stage, and we’re trying to keep it safe.”
Trout is off to another strong start, batting .333 with a 1.124 OPS, a team-leading seven homers, 14 RBIs and 12 runs in 13 games. Over his last 162 games dating back to 2019, he has 58 homers, 129 RBIs, 130 runs, a 1.088 OPS and 10.4 wins above replacement.
Trout led the AL in strikeouts with 184 in 2014, the year he won his first MVP award. He lowered that figure to 158 in 2015, 137 in 2016, 90 in an injury marred 2017, 124 in 2018 and 120 in 2019. In two of those seasons, Trout led the league in walks, with 116 in 2016 and 122 in 2018.
“I think it just goes with experience, knowing what I need to do to get back when I’m off,” Trout said of his increase in power and patience. “I don’t want to jinx it, but just knowing how to fix it.”
For Trout, that usually means getting his front foot down on time, the key mechanism from which his powerful swing flows.
“If I don’t get my foot down, I’m in trouble,” Trout said. “I try to keep it simple, keep it short.”
Anthony Rendon, the Angels’ prized off-season acquisition, is hitless in his last 28 plate appearance and his batting average has dropped to .103.
That was the approach Trout took Monday night, and a long game ensued. Trout hit a two-run homer that traveled 428 feet to left field in the fourth inning and a solo shot that traveled 426 feet to left in the eighth.
“He is, in my opinion, the best player in the big leagues and maybe the best to do it,” said Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman, who hit two homers and a triple and drove in six runs Monday night.
“It’s always fun playing him. And stressful because he’s so good. It seems like he just keeps getting better every single year, which I didn’t really think was possible.”
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