MLB

Expect things to get ugly for Angels if Mike Trout is out

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Hold your breath, Los Angeles Angels fans.

Mike Trout will go for an MRI on his left thumb after jamming it while sliding into second base during Sunday’s game against the Miami Marlins.

It goes without saying that the impact of losing Trout for a significant period of time would be gargantuan, but that’s especially true in the Angels’ case. Trout ranks first in the majors with 3.5 Wins Above Replacement. If he misses time, his replacement could be Ben Revere. Revere ranks second-to-last among position players with -1.2 WAR this season.

In fact, Trout has compiled 14 WAR — most in the majors — since the start of the 2016 season. Revere ranks second-to-last in that span too, at -2.4 WAR.

In other words, the Angels would be replacing Trout with a sub-replacement level player. They’d be doing so because their farm system is lacking in immediate-impact talent. It ranked 27th out of 30 in Keith Law’s preseason rankings. Possible replacements include veterans Dustin Ackley and Eric Young Jr., both historically comparable in overall skill to Revere.

Injury history

Trout has been Mr. Durable throughout his major-league career. He averaged 158 games per season from 2013 to 2016. He has never spent any time on the disabled list. Trout has previously suffered injuries to his leg, right finger, left knee, back, left wrist and most recently his hamstring.

The latter cost him six games earlier this season. In those six, the Angels went 2-4, averaged three runs per game and hit .202 as a team. They scored more than three runs only once.

Baseball-Reference.com has a run value stat to show how much a player’s bat is worth to his team. Trout entered Sunday ranked first on the Angels, 28 runs above average. Cameron Maybin ranks second at three runs above average. If Trout were significantly hurt, the Angels would join the Rangers as the only AL teams with one non-disabled player worth at least three batting runs.

On the verge of milestones

Trout was on the verge of passing pitcher Chuck Finley for the top spot on the Angels all-time WAR leaderboard. His 52.1 WAR are 0.1 shy of Finley’s total. It also was a match for baseball legend Mickey Mantle’s total through his age-25 season (age as of June 30).

The only position player with more WAR than Mantle and Trout through their age-25 season is another all-time great, Ty Cobb (55.8).

Trout currently ranks 21st in WAR among those whose primary position was center field (he just passed Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett). Every player in the top 20 has played at least 1,500 career games. Trout has played 858. If healthy, Trout could move into the top 15 by season’s end.

In the vein of some of the more traditional stats, Trout needs 16 home runs to become the eighth player to hit 200 of them through his age-25 season. His current teammate, Albert Pujols, hit 201.

Nothing has slowed him down

What’s scary about Trout is that he has gotten better in a number of areas this season. His 16 home runs are the most he’s ever had by the end of May. He’s averaging a home run every 10.2 at-bats, a rate he has never come close to reaching in any prior season.

Trout has been much more in attack mode than usual. He’s swinging at nearly two-thirds of the pitches thrown to him in the strike zone. His career rate entering this season was 55 percent. His 20 percent miss rate is a shade below his career rate entering 2017, 22 percent.

Trout’s rate of hitting the ball hard also was looking promising at 24 percent. He was at 21 and 19 percent the past two seasons. He has seven home runs on offspeed pitches, four shy of his total from 2016.

But the chances of those numbers continuing at those levels may hinge upon a very important doctor’s appointment come Monday.

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