Baseball’s best player is going on the disabled list for the first time in his (absolutely absurd) seven-year career.
Several Angels beat writers have reported that Mike Trout has a torn ligament in his thumb that may require surgery, which would likely keep him out of game action for five to eight weeks:
Mike Trout has a UCL tear in his left thumb. Surgery is an option. He's heading to the DL for the first time in his career.
— Maria I. Guardado (@mi_guardado) May 29, 2017
If Trout has surgery would be out 5-8 weeks or so. #Angels
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) May 29, 2017
The Angels have confirmed that Trout is going on the DL:
— Angels (@Angels) May 30, 2017
Trout missing even 10 days is rough news for the Angels, but five to eight weeks could be crushing.
The 25-year-old has been the game’s best player since soon after he entered the league, and he’s looked even better this year. Trout currently is worth 3.6 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs, which is nearly a full win above anyone else in baseball, just two months into the season. Only 55 position players (so less than two per team) had a WAR that high all season in 2016. What he’s done this year is simply incredible.
It’s one thing to show how valuable Trout is compared to the rest of the league, but what’s of course more important to the Angels is the value Trout carries to their team. And it’s absolutely massive.
With the Mike Trout news a reminder that Trout has 3.4 bWAR this year. The rest of the Angels position players combined are at -0.4 bWAR.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) May 29, 2017
Minus Mike Trout, the rest of the Angels position players have a total of -1.1 fWAR and Maybin is the only one with more than a 106 wRC+.
— Matt Chrietzberg (@MChrietzberg) May 29, 2017
Mike Trout out multiple weeks with torn thumb ligament
Leads MLB 3.5 WAR
Trout: .337 BA, .461 OBP
Other Angels: .226 BA, .298 OBP
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2017
Andrelton Simmons is the only other Angels players above 1.0 WAR per FanGraphs, and he’s the only other Angels player with at least a .752 OPS. And he’s overachieving at the plate, with far and away his most valuable ability being his insane defense.
This is where things get even worse: Ben Revere is likely to replace Trout in the Angels’ starting lineup.
Mike Trout in 2016-17: .320/.445/.594, 184 OPS+
Ben Revere (Trout's replacement) in 2016-17: .218/.255/.309, 51 OPS+
Good luck, Angels.
— Alex Putterman (@AlexPutterman) May 29, 2017
Revere is quite possibly the worst hitter in baseball. Of hitters with at least 350 plate appearances last season, Revere was dead-last in wRC+, by quite a bit. This means the Angels are replacing the best hitter in baseball, with arguably the worst hitter in baseball. They’re replacing a player worth 13.0 WAR over the last two seasons, with a guy worth -1.5 WAR (and it would be worse with more playing time) over the last two seasons.
So, the Angels’ below-average offense takes a massive hit (and will be getting much less of them!) for up to two months, and their pitching staff is already a below-average unit. This is trouble.
Sometimes we overrate the loss of one player in baseball, as it’s unlike the NBA where a LeBron James could immediately make a bad team a great one on a nightly basis, or the NFL where an Aaron Rodgers could immediately turn a heavily flawed team into a title contender (as we see on an annual basis with the Packers). But for baseball, this is about as close as you’re going to see in terms of a potential full-on team-changing injury.
The Angels (26-27) sit just two games out of the AL Wild Card race, but they’re so incredibly dependent on Trout, and now they’re replacing him with a player that carries negative value. It’s an offense with zero other good hitters at the moment.
When you add all of this up, it’s very possible that Trout being out up to eight weeks could knock five wins or so off the Angels’ record, and that may be the difference in them being a legitimate Wild Card contender or not.
UPDATE: Mike Trout is indeed getting surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Brutal.
#Angels CF Mike Trout will undergo surgery to repair torn ligament in left thumb on Wednesday. Out 6-8 weeks.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) May 30, 2017