Originally posted on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 6/27/12

“Nobody knows the doubles I’ve creamed,” or so players in the Pacific Time Zone used to lament in the days before the internet.

Hall of famers like Sandy Koufax or the Padres Tony Gwynn could do something special on a Saturday night but no one on the East Coast would know about it until Monday morning when the newspapers finally printed the box scores. Times have changed, of course, but the perceptions of “East Coast bias” and players on the left coast not getting their just due on ESPN until coverage of the Yankees and Red Sox has run dry,  are still alive and well.  With the All-Star team selections on the western horizon,  the hope is writers can stay up late enough to toss some “hype”  towards the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim, of California, of North America.

And I’m not talking about the hype around the free agents the Angels signed,  Albert Pujols and pitcher CJ Wilson (8-4, 2.44 ERA).   Although Wilson deserves some consideration and Pujols remains popular, the two Angels most worthy of an All-Star nod may be a couple of guys no one east of Palm Springs is talking about.

Outfielder Mike Trout isn’t even on the All-Star ballot.  I know some of you EST Bostonians  are too busy shedding tears over the departure of Tom Brady’s future brother-in-law, Kevin Youkilis,  and may be asking “Mike who?”  Well,  say hello to a young player no reporter has asked a clown question of yet.

Trout is a 20-year old outfielder out of, funny enough, the New Jersey area, who is currently ripping up the American League. He leads the league in batting average (.338 through June 25th) and stolen bases (21). He has scored 43 runs in 51 games, just ten less than league leader Ian Kinsler of Texas who has played in 72 games.

Trout was the Angels first round draft pick, #25 overall, in 2009.  Although Trout played in 40 games with the big club last year and batted .220, the Angels broke 2012 spring training believing a bit more AAA seasoning couldn’t hurt him. MLB had to tell Trout “No All Star ballot for you!”

But when the Angels started poorly and Trout batted .406 in Salt Lake City,  the pressure to bring him up became too great.   He was brought up on April 27th and struggled at first – he went just 1 for 11 in the three April games he played.  But like the May flowers, Trout blossomed.  He went 14 for 38 (.368) in his first ten games of May and has been on cruise control ever since.  He is a major  reason the Angels have gone from being 2012?s biggest bust to serious contender.   The Angels were 6-14 before Trout joined the Angels party; they’ve gone 34-19 since.

Unfortunately, the odds of Trout making the starting team based on fan votes are slim and none and Slim just headed towards the exits. No player has been voted onto the team as a write-in since Steve Garvey pulled it off way back in 1974.  The players do get to fill a roster spot with their own votes but Trout is considered a rookie and is therefore a few rungs down his peer’s totem pole.    The players have voted in only one rookie, Dan Uggla in 2006, since their voting process was initiated nine years ago. The fans also get to fill a final spot via the internet but the old east coast bias seemed to work overtime last year.   In 2011, it was left up to the fans to vote in either the Phillies Shane Victorino or the Dodgers Andre Ethier.  The Philly-Phanatics ruled, although Victorino’s injury ended up giving Ethier the final nod.

Is Trout enamored with the idea of being named to the All-Star team?  Maybe, maybe not.   “If I get picked, it’d be a great honor. But if I don’t get picked, there’s always next year,” Trout said.

Meanwhile, the Angels haven’t gotten back into this thing due solely to Trout.  Mark Trumbo, last year’s runner up in the AL rookie of the year voting (surprise, he lost out to a player in the EST), certainly isn’t suffering the sophomore jinx. Trumbo is currently in the top ten of the AL in “Triple Crown” stats. His .316 average places him fifth in the batting title race; he is eighthin home runs with 17 and sixth  in RBI with 49.  The case against Trumbo making the All-Star team may come down more to the defense than the offense. 

Lost amid all the hype surrounding the Albert Pujols signing, Mark Trumbo has quietly put up All-Star like numbers.

Trumbo played first base last year and his dynamic rookie season (29 HR, 87 RBI) appeared to firmly ensconce him there for decades. So when Pujols came on board, the Angels and Trumbo faced a conundrum.  In order to keep Trumbo in the line-up, the Angels announced they were moving him to third base, a position he had never played as a professional. That meant he would be considered a third baseman for All-star ballot purposes. Things haven’t quite worked out the way the Angels thought.

Trumbo struggled with his glove and a series of injuries to others has seen him play most of his 2012 games as an outfielder. Not only is Trumbo literally out of position, he shares a ballot listing with fan favorites Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria.  It will be a tough sell on his part to win the masses over.   But like Trout,  Trumbo is downplaying the support Angels fans are attempting to drum up.

“I treat it the same way I treated all the Rookie of the Year talk last year — I don’t expect anything,” he said.

So the killer T’s chances of hopping a flight to Kansas City for this year’s All-Star match-up lies with AL skipper Ron Washington and how he decides to round out the roster. Washington manages in the Central Time zone.  Angels fans can only hope he’s nocturnal.

Be sure to check out other great articles at isportsweb.

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