Ringolsby: The Face Of MLB
There’s something missing from this picture.
Mike Trout was called out by commissioner Rob Manfred because Trout isn’t enough of a self-promoter?
That doesn’t compute.
Trout is arguably the best player in the game.
I say arguably because I could easily make the case that Nolan Arenado deserves that distinction in light of the completeness of his game, which even has players from a different generation admitting that Arenado well could be the best third baseman the game has ever seen.
But then Arenado isn’t a self-promoter, either. So I guess he wouldn’t fit whatever it is Major League Baseball feels is important for its star players to possess.
Just what is it that Trout doesn’t do?
He plays the game hard and with a high level of skill.
He has the respect of his teammates for his commitment to the team.
He has a personality.
He isn’t necessarily verbose in media sessions, but he is polite, available and willing to answer the questions that are asked.
Biggest knock on him? He hasn’t played on a championship team. The Angels won the World Series in 2002, a decade before Trout was American League Rookie of the Year. They haven’t been back to the World Series since.
It that his fault?
Baseball, of all sports, is one game that a single player can’t control. It is a team game in the absolute sense.
That’s not to knock the other sports. It’s just what happens when a player gets one turn out of every nine taken by his team to impact the game offensively. It’s what happens when a player might be involved in five or six defensive plays on a busy night.
And when it comes to a face of a sport, and recognition for his greatness, put Trout at the top of the list.
Just what has he done on the field?
Well, as a rookie he led the AL in stolen bases. He has led the AL in runs scored four times. He was the AL leader in RBIs in 2014. He led the league in slugging in 2015 and 2017. He led in on-base percentage in 2016 and 2017 and did it again this year.
And he is 27 years old.
Check out Baseball-Reference.com, and the player Trout is most similar to through age 25 is Frank Robinson. The next names on the list are Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron.
Now, the fans obviously know Trout. He is a seven-time all-star and has been voted to the starting lineup by the fans five times.
The players obviously know who he is. He has won the Silver Slugger for offensive excellence by an outfielder the last five years.
And the media haven’t ignored him. In six seasons from 2012 to 2017, the writers have voted him the AL MVP twice, the runner-up three times and fourth in the voting once.
He spends his time with fans and puts in hours on charity work.
Oh, and the consumers know him, too. Let’s just point out that he is 27 and Nike is already producing the fifth version of the Mike Trout baseball cleat.
What’s the knock on him? That he doesn’t pander for attention? He doesn’t try to set himself apart from his teammates? He doesn’t blast the Angels for failing to provide enough talent to make the postseason more than once in his first seven full seasons?
He just goes about his business, enjoys life, and puts together seasons better than any other outfielder in the game.
That is a reason to be admired, not to be expected to apologize.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are arguably the best players in the NFL. Both are quarterbacks. Both have won Super Bowls. Neither one is going to be praised for the cute one-liners they deliver. Heck, the most recognizable quarterback in the NFL from a public standpoint isn’t even in the NFL anymore—Colin Kaepernick.
LeBron James is certainly a regular figure on television, having earned his place as basketball’s most recognizable player, but it’s not like he is beloved. He gets heat for using free agency to change teams, in search of an NBA title. Damn him for wanting to win.
Truth be told, I’d say Trout is the perfect guy to be the face of the franchise — and of Major League Baseball.
He embodies hard work, a team-first mentality, and is at least the best player in the AL, if not the game.