Mike Trout injury

Who Will Step Up for the Angels With Mike Trout Injured?

Angels fans just can’t catch a break. But the latest tragedy to befall the club is a particularly brutal one. On April 30, Mike Trout announced that he had a torn meniscus and would need surgery and the team said he should return before the end of the season. During Trout’s press conference, he was noticeably emotional but maintained that he would “get through it.”

Trout was off to a hot start in 2024 and all signs pointed toward another MVP-caliber season from the Angels center fielder. This marks the fourth straight season that Trout has dealt with a major injury. In 2021, a strained calf in mid-May sidelined him for the rest of the season. In 2022, he missed more than a month in late summer with a back injury. Last year, he missed all but one game after July 3 due to a fractured hamate bone.

It’s still unclear when Trout will return to Anaheim, so where do the Angels go from here?

Who Will Step Up for the Angels After the Mike Trout Injury?

The Jo Show

Mike Trout injury
Apr 29, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels outfielder Jo Adell (7) watches the flight of the ball on a solo home run in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jo Adell was a once-promising top prospect, but the last few years haven’t been kind to him. He has struggled with contact, strikeouts, and defense and thus hasn’t been a bonafide starter yet. But he’s been mashing for the first month of the season and it feels like this season might be do or die for the Jo Show.

Adell has already played in more games this year (24) than he did last year (17) and his numbers have drastically improved across the board. He’s slashing .290/.338/.565 and has three doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI. He has already set a career-high in stolen bases with five, but he’s also leading MLB in the number of times he’s been caught stealing (five).

His Baseball Savant page also looks very promising. His expected stats (wOBA, average, slugging) are all in the 97th percentile and his barrel rate and hard-hit rate are in the 93rd and 92nd percentiles. His chase, whiff, and strikeout rates are all very high, but both his whiff and strikeout rates have improved since last year. 

He’ll definitely need to stop making careless mistakes on the base paths and improve his defense, but Adell is showing early signs of being the hitter people thought he would be. With Trout out for at least a few months, Adell will now be the team’s everyday starter in right field and he’ll have all the runway he needs to prove himself a capable major-league hitter.

Zach Attack

Mike Trout injury
Apr 24, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Zach Neto (9) is greeted by teammates after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Neto got off to a very slow start this season, but he’s really picked up his offensive output in the last week. People were questioning whether or not Neto’s development had been ruined after the Angels rushed him to the big leagues, but over the last eight games he’s posted a sparkling 1.103 OPS.

With Trout and Rendon both on the IL, the Angels need everyone in their lineup to step up, and Neto has been providing a good spark recently. Manager Ron Washington has been moving him up and down the lineup and he was hitting second when Trout was leading off. In the two games since Trout’s injury, Neto has been in the nine hole and that might be where he stays; he’s said he likes batting ninth as a sort of secondary leadoff hitter.

Can Taylor Ward Shine?

Mike Trout injury
Apr 12, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Taylor Ward (3) slides into home plate during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Ward is now the best hitter on LA’s roster so he’ll really have to catch fire if the team wants to remain in striking distance of a Wild Card spot as the summer months begin. At his peak, Ward can be an All-Star, but he hasn’t played at that level for a full season yet.

He’s off to a solid start in 2024, slashing .278/.313/.492 with seven homers and 23 RBI; he is tied for 11th in the majors in home runs and ranks 13th in the league in runs batted in. Aside from Trout, he’s arguably been the most important hitter on the team and he’ll now be expected to produce even more now.

His predictive statistics are also very encouraging. He’s walking less and striking out more than he has in past years, but all of his other metrics are trending up. He’s barreling balls at a 14.4% rate, which is in the 91st percentile, and given his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity, his counting stats should only get better as the season rolls on. 

Losing Mike Trout for the fourth straight season is enough to make Angels fans cry, but not all hope is lost. If the pitching ever improves, the Angels lineup, which is better than people give it credit for, may help the team have an outside shot at the playoffs.

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