Despite the loss of Mike Trout to a major thumb injury, the Los Angeles Angels have managed to gain ground in the AL Wild Card standings.
Just 53 games into a promising 2017 season, as the best baseball player in the world clutched his hand, fans in Anaheim feared the worst.
Mike Trout suffered a torn UCL and dorsal capsule in his thumb when sliding into second base on a steal attempt May 28. The injury required surgery, and the Angels would be without the reigning AL MVP four up to two months.
After Trout’s last game, the Angels were 26-27 and three games behind the Red Sox, and 1.5 games behind the Indians in the Wild Card. In 47 games, Trout hit .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI and 36 runs scored, along with 10 stolen bases – one of them very costly. He led all of baseball with 3.3 Wins Above Replacement.
No team could be expected to replace that level of production, especially the Angels, who have struggled to build a consistent winner despite featuring baseball’s best player on its roster for the past six years.
But a funny thing happened with Trout on the shelf. Instead of sinking like a stone to the bottom of the AL Wild Card standings, the Angels kept their head above water – even gaining ground in the race. Eric Young, Jr., Yunel Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and Cameron Maybin have put together enough runs to stay close to .500. And in the American League, that’s good enough to stay in the Wild Card race.
Now 43-43, the Angels enter Monday a single game back in the race for the second Wild Card spot. With Trout close to beginning a rehab assignment next week, hopes are high the Angels can make a push for the postseason.
American League Division Leaders
Boston Red Sox (47-35, .573)
The Red Sox won seven of eight games last week to increase their lead in baseball’s most competitive division. Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz and Craig Kimbrel were dominant on the mound, and David Price added a quality start in which he allowed six hit with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Mookie Betts led the team in almost every offensive category last week thanks in large part to his two home runs and eight RBI in Sunday’s 15-1 win over Toronto. Betts hit .483/.556/.862 with three home runs and 11 RBI for the week, and also scored 10 runs.
Cleveland Indians (44-37, .543)
Similar to Boston’s run of success, the Indians were able to increase their lead in the division to three games last week. Also like the Red Sox, the Tribe relied on its ace to do much of the heavy lifting. Corey Kluber struck out 12 in eight innings in his only start last week, picking up a win after allowing just one run on three hits and a walk. Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger were also great, each posting an ERA of 1.50 or better for the week.
Jose Ramirez was one of the best hitters in baseball last week, putting together a .357/.419/.750 slash with three home runs, seven RBI and 11 runs scored in seven games. Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana were also hot at the plate last week. Brantley hit .364/.417/.455 while Chisenhall and Santana drove in nine and eight runs, respectively.
Houston Astros (56-27, .675)
Carlos Correa led the Astros offensively, going 12-for-24 at the plate in six games. Correa led the club with three home runs and 10 RBI, and posted an incredible .500/.556/.958 slash. Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Yuli Gurriel, Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve all hit better than .400, while Gurriel and George Springer each launched two long balls during the week.