2020 MLB Season: Simulating AL games, May 15-17

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(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Mike Trout has started slowly in the 2020 MLB season simulation, and his team has started slowly, too. This weekend the Angels’ results mirrored Trout’s.

Newly acquired third baseman Anthony Rendon is batting .309 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. DH Shohei Ohtani is even hotter, producing a .356/.412/.658 slash line.

Yet as a team, the Los Angeles Angels linger in fourth place in the virtual 2020 AL West race. They are five games under .500 and 10 off the Houston Astros’ pace.

And although the team’s expected weak starting rotation is one factor in that under-performance, Angels fans are beginning to wonder about another, entirely less expected, shortcoming.

What’s going on with Mike Trout?

Forty-five games into the virtual season, the Angels star center fielder is batting just .266. He has gotten his share of walks, enough to lift his on-base average to its customary place above .400.  But purely from a hitting standpoint, Trout’s play in the virtual season represents the worst start of his career.

Since becoming a regular in 2012, Trout’s only experienced one 45-game start with an average below .289, and that was six seasons ago when he was hitting .270 in mid-May of 2014. Between 2012 and 2019, his 45-game average is .303.

So to see the three-time MVP struggling along at .266 is more than slightly unsettling.

In fairness to Trout, he may be picking up his pace. Since closing April at .226, Trout has added 40 points to his average, He’s batting .354 for the month with five of his 11 home runs and nine of his 24 RBIs. Against the Oakland Athletics this weekend, Trout was 3-for-9, and the Angels fashion directly mirrored his own.

Related Story: 2020 MLB Season: Simulating NL games, May 11-14

In the Friday series opener, Daniel Mengden and two relievers held Trout to one single in four at-bats and the A’s won 3-1. Oakland took a 6-4 victory Saturday, Trout going hitless in two official at-bats with a pair of walks.

But against Sean Manaea Sunday, Trout broke out with a pair of doubles, driving in a run as Los Angeles beat the Athletics 7-2. The top of the LA order – rookie Joe Adell, Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon — combined for seven of the team’s nine hits and all seven RBIs.

The lesson is an easily understood one: If the Angels are to get going, they need Trout to hit.

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