ANAHEIM — If there was any doubt about Mike Trout remaining one of baseball’s elite players after being limited to just 36 games last year because of a right calf injury, he put that aside earlier this season.
Trout continued his sizzling start to the year, going 2-3 with a homer, a double, a walk and three RBIs to support southpaw Patrick Sandoval’s strong effort on the mound in a 4-1 win over the Guardians on Saturday night. Tuesday at Angel Stadium. Trout, a three-time American League MVP and nine-time All-Star, is hitting .347/0.458/0.776 in 14 games this year. His 1,234 OPS leads the Majors and is nearly 100 points above Anthony Rizzo’s 1,144 OPS, who ranks second.
“I’m very confident in what I do,” said Trout. “And I have fun doing it. Just trying to help the team win. I’ve been playing baseball all my life.”
Trout’s quick start helped him increase his Career OPS to 1,004, which is the highest number among active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, as Cincinnati’s Joey Votto is second with a Career OPS of 0.932 . When reduced to 2,000 career appearances, Nationals’ Juan Soto is in second place behind Trout with an OPS of 0.977.
He was asked after the game if he feels like he’s playing like the “peak Mike Trout” at the start of the season, but he shrugged it off with a smile.
“Mike Trout Peak?” said Trout. “I’ll leave that for you to decide. But I feel good out there and I’m obviously healthy.”
Trout also made history once again, tying Tim Salmon’s franchise record for most homers at Angel Stadium with his explosion in the third inning. Salmon hit 160 homers in 847 home games with the Angels, while Trout matched that total in 655 home games.
He hit in the first inning against Guardians starter Triston McKenzie but bounced back with a two-run home run from the right in the third, good for Trout’s fifth home of the season. As of Tuesday, the Angels rank second in the Majors in homers with 24, and their 86 runs lead the American League.
“The shot I threw he hit, and the double, I think they were decent shots,” McKenzie said. “I think he’s just a guy you have to be wary of. [of] all the time.”
Trout nearly went to the bottom again in the fifth half, ripping a 0-2 fastball off McKenzie on the left field line and off the wall, marking Shohei Ohtani for first after he scored with two outs.
“It was a big moment,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of the win. “We ran with Shohei at the right time and he came to score. Michael looks really good on the plate. And that’s an understatement.”
Trout entered his final appearance on the scoreboard in eighth against southpaw Anthony Gose, despite trailing 0-2 on the count. He tried to score first in a double for Jared Walsh’s left center but was ejected on the plate. Trout, however, still showed off his wheels as he reached a top speed of 28.9 feet per second, just short of the 30 feet per second considered elite by Statcast.
Trout’s big night on the plate was enough for Sandoval, who eliminated nine in seven goalless innings in one of the best starts to his young career. Sandoval entered with an ERA of 0.00 on eight innings, but had yet to go beyond four frames on any of his outs.
He was much more efficient this time around, becoming the first Angels starter to hit the seven-innings mark this season and opened the year with 15 innings without allowing a well-deserved run.
Sandoval was pleased with the way he played the ball, but he also remains impressed with Trout, who has been his teammate since Sandoval’s debut in ’19.
“It’s crazy,” Sandoval said. “He just rolls everything up. It’s fun to have him playing behind me. He is the GOAT”