The 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing. For the ninth time in ten seasons, the best player in all of baseball finds himself sitting at home during the playoffs. Lamenting the lack of Mike Trout playoff baseball isn’t anything new. Every baseball fan is well aware that Trout and MLB have a playoff problem. The worst part of it all, there’s really not much either side can do about the matter.
It’s become a tradition for the MLB playoffs to start and for fans and pundits alike to moan about the lack of Trout’s presence in the playoffs. There’s no point in regaling you with Trout’s regular-season stats. He’s the best player in the world, a multiple-time American League Most Valuable Player winner, who in a just society would have even more regular-season hardware on his shelf. In a perfect world, the best player in baseball would take center stage when the most eyes are on the sport. Yet, each and every year, sans 2014, the playoffs start and Trout is nowhere to be found.
Trout is an amazing ballplayer, he’s possibly the best to ever play the game. That being said, even the best of all-time can’t make the playoffs on his own. He can’t account for almost every big-name free agent the Los Angeles Angels sign fizzling out big time. The Angels’ star center fielder can’t do anything about his team’s inability to develop pitching. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking starting pitching, middle relief, closer, or the guy who throws three mop-up innings a month, the Angels have not been able to develop a group of pitchers since Trout has been on the team.
There’s nothing Trout can do about the injuries that seem to sideline his supporting cast year after year. Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, and Andrelton Simmons are the three most recent examples of impact players who are themselves great but have seen their ability to help Trout’s team get to the playoffs take a big hit because they lost time with injuries. Trout can’t help the Angels’ recent coaching carousel. Different managers with different coaching staffs that employ different strategies are simply beyond number 27’s control.
MLB can’t do much either, and they, most of all, would love it for their best player to be in the spotlight come October and November. This season MLB executives had to be salivating at the thought of Trout finally making it back to the playoffs. With an expanded playoff field there was little doubt that Trout would be donning his uniform in October. An Ohtani injury and Anthony Rendon slow start later and well, it’s October and Trout isn’t putting his uniform on. MLB did the one and only thing they could to help their superstar get back to the postseason and even then they find he is on the outside looking in.
Baseball is a team sport. I know that’s stating the obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind when a talent such as Mike Trout perpetually misses the playoffs. He can’t do it alone and he can’t do anything about his teammates underperforming, injuries hitting the team hard, new coaching styles not working out, or everything that could go wrong actually going wrong. For the good of the game Mike Trout needs to be in the playoffs again, but the complexity of that very game makes it far from a given that the greatest in the sport will ever see the bright lights of postseason baseball again.