What the Halo? Leave Trout in CF!

From FOX Sports - May 28, 2030

Would the Giants have moved a young Willie Mays out of center field?

Not a chance. Mays won 12 straight Gold Gloves from 1957 to '68, and presumably would have fared just as well in advanced measures, if sabermetrics had existed back then. The Giants wouldnt have messed with Willie Mays, future Hall of Famereven if they had some hotshot defensive alternative in center.

So, why the heck would the Angels mess with Mike Trout?

Im not saying Trout is Maysnot yet, anyway. But coincidentally or not, Trouts offensive tear began when he returned to center field on April 30. That was the date Peter Bourjosthe Angels hotshot defensive alternativewent on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

Trout prior to Bourjos injury: .252 batting/.322 on-base/.402 slugging, two homers in 25 games.

Trout since: .343/.419/.713, eight homers in 28 games.

Again, its a reach to draw a direct correlation. Trout was bound to get hot, and the other adjustment the Angels asked him to makedropping from the No. 1 to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, directly in front of Albert Pujolsalso might have contributed to his offensive surge.

No matter.

If the Angels want the complete Troutthe full Mikeythey need to put him in a position of maximum comfort. That position, virtually everyone acknowledges, is center. Yet, manager Mike Scioscia continues to say that Bourjos, when healthy, will reclaim the position.

Bourjos, who was batting .313 with a .370 on-base percentage at the time of his injury, is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment next week and rejoin the Angels shortly thereafter.

Whether Mike plays center or left, its not connected with his offensive performance, Scioscia said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mike is a center fielder, no doubt about it. But with Peter playing well, youre taking a burden off Mike. Theres less of a grind moving from center to left.

Well, Im not sure the Angels should worry about the physical burden on Trout, who does not turn 22 until Aug. 7. And while Im no expert on psychology, Scioscia seems to be missing the human element, the effect on Trouts psyche, andfor lack of a better wordhis swagger.

We are talking, after all, about the best all-around player in the game.

Trout is not a fading veteran who needs to change positions to compensate for his loss of range. He also is not that inferior to Bourjos defensively. According to John Dewans plus-minus ratings on Bill James Online, Trout made 34 plays above the number an average fielder would make last season, second among center fielders only to Michael Bourn, who was plus-37. (Bourjos, who played 501 2/3 innings to Trouts 1,225 2/3, was plus-13.)

Never mind that Trout has been a good soldier, never once complaining about playing left. Angels people concede that Trouts old smile and energy returned after he moved back to center. And in the past several days, Ive spoken with three analysts at MLB Networkformer major leaguers Bill Ripken, Harold Reynolds and Dave Vallewho were adamant that Trout should remain at the position.


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