x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Trout and Trumbo put Pujols in the shade at the LA Angels

The exploits of the pair have been an unexpected bonus for the American League side.

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout, left, is congratulated by Mark Trumbo after scoring on a single during a game.
Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout, left, is congratulated by Mark Trumbo after scoring on a single during a game.

When the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols to a 10-year US$254 million (Dh932.9m) contract last winter in the MLB, they had to figure he would be their most exciting player this season. Who was going to top one of baseball's best players over the past 11 years?

In actuality, two Angels have done it.

Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, known by Angels fans as "TNT" for their "dynamite" play this season, have surpassed Pujols in both impact and national attention.

Trout was leading the American League in batting average at .354 through Friday's games and tied for the majors' lead in stolen bases with 30.

Trumbo was tied for second in the major leagues with 27 home runs, fifth in the AL in RBI (66) and leading the AL in slugging percentage (.630).

Both are home-grown talents, drafted by the Angels and developed in their minor league system. Neither was a regular in the line-up when the season started; Trout, 20, was in Triple-A and Trumbo, 26, was a part-time third baseman after Pujols displaced him at first base.

These days Trout is leading off for the Angels, and might be the best at the job in baseball, while Trumbo is batting clean-up, recently impressing his peers with his power display at the home run derby.

On a recommendation from Pujols, Robinson Cano picked Trumbo to compete for the American League. He hit 13 home runs, averaging 434 feet, better than any of the other seven contestants, including the winner Prince Fielder.

He hit a ball off the top of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame and a 457-foot shot up the berm in left centre.

Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder, who is second in the National League with 22 home runs, told MLB. com: "Trumbo, man, he's hitting home runs that I could never hit."

Trout is proving to be one of the more versatile players in the major leagues, with 13 home runs and 30 steals in 33 attempts. He has drawn comparisons to legendary Yankee Mickey Mantle for his combination of speed and power and speedster Rickey Henderson for his ability to create havoc on the base paths.

Trout could well make a run at being the American League MVP. There is little doubt he has been the most valuable player for the Angels. Before they called up him from Salt Lake City on April 27, the Angels were 6-14. Since then, they are 45-29.

One of the all-time great Angels, and a home-grown talent himself, Tim Salmon, thinks Trout and Trumbo are players who will make an impact for years to come.

"There is a difference between being good enough to get here and good enough to be a foundational group," Salmon told the LA Times. "They have staying power. You can build your team around them, year in and year out."