With Wife And Newborn Son Healthy, Mike Trout Begins Laying Waste To Angels Opponents
ANAHEIM—Mike Trout sees and hears the jokes about “dad power,” but there is a legitimate connection between the birth of his first child and his ensuing home run surge.
With his son, Beckham Aaron, born completely healthy, Trout feels like he can take a breath for the first time in a long while.
“Leading up to it, obviously, I was worried about the virus,” he said. “I’m still obviously extremely worried about this virus, I have a newborn at home.
“But being able to have a newborn, a son, being healthy, it’s big for me.”
Trout hit two home runs, including the tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, to lead the Angels to a 10-9 comeback victory over the A’s on Monday night.
Since he returned to the Angels following his son’s birth, Trout is batting .367 with six home runs in seven games.
“People ask me about this dad power, I guess it’s a thing,” Trout said. “There’s no better feeling than being a father, I’ll tell you that.”
In all seriousness, there is a noticeable difference to Trout in the eyes of manager Joe Maddon. The Angels, in part because of Trout and his wife Jessica’s looming birth of their son, established strict team protocols before the season that went beyond MLB’s health and safety protocols. The season began seven days before Trout’s son was born, and the first outbreak in an MLB clubhouse began to accelerate three days prior to the due date.
“He’s gotta be more relaxed,” Maddon said. “It was such a big concern of him and his wife regarding the birth and the virus and everything else surrounding it. I think he’s coming out the other side of that. He’s playing with more mental freedom.”
Trout, as he so often does, put the Angels on his back in the series opener against the A’s. The Angels trailed 9-4 in the fourth inning when Trout hit a two-run homer to get the comeback started. The Angels added another run in the inning on a Albert Pujols RBI groundout that cut the deficit to 9-7, and Shohei Ohtani pulled the Angels into a tie with a two-run homer in the sixth.
That’s where the score remained until Trout stepped to the plate with one out in the eighth. Facing former teammate Yusmeiro Petit, Trout watched the first three pitches go by and fell behind in the count 1-2, then launched a hanging curveball 426 feet into the left field seats to cap the Angels six-run rally.
“He’s, in my opinion, the best player in the big leagues and maybe the best to do it,” said A’s third baseman Matt Chapman, who also homered twice and had six RBI. “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.”
To wit, Trout has 58 home runs in his last 162 games, according to statistician Christopher Kamka. He is coming off his third American League Most Valuable Player award and is rapidly approaching 300 career home runs in his age-29 season.
Outbreaks on the Marlins and Cardinals have kept him, and everyone else, vigilant as the season progresses. But like everyone else, he’s taking it one step at a time, and getting through that first step of a healthy birth for his wife and son has taken a weight off his shoulders.
“It was one of those things where I didn’t want to see me bring the virus home to my pregnant wife,” Trout said. “We got through that step, that stage, so now we’re just trying to keep it safe.”