Results tagged ‘ Jackie Robinson ’

Mike Trout is finally 21 years old …

Mike Trout is still a kid in some ways. He’s still among the youngest in baseball, is still a rookie and still spends his offseasons living out of his parents’ house in Millville, N.J., where he’s turned the basement into what he calls his “own little Man Cave.” “It’s awesome,” he said. “I’ve got a ping-pong table, dart board, huge flat screen. My friends love it.”

But on Tuesday, Aug. 7, Trout finally turned 21. He can now legally drink, which in this country is basically the final stage before full-on adulthood, even if only in a logistical sense.

They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Well, Trout grew up faster than most. Because before turning 21, he already looked like the best player in the Majors, was a favorite to be the youngest Most Valuable Player ever (you can already give him the Rookie of the Year Award) and was mentioned among the likes of Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Davis, Bo Jackson and Mickey Mantle. Not fair, of course. He’s still so young, so early in his baseball career, with so much left to accomplish.

But it’s hard not to make comparisons like that when you consider …

  • Since his April 28 callup, Trout is batting .348 (1st in the AL) with 19 homers (1st among Major League rookies), 59 RBIs (ditto), 36 stolen bases (1st in the Majors), 86 runs (1st in the Majors), a .411 on-base percentage (3rd in the AL) and a .598 slugging percentage (2nd in the AL).
  • No player has ever hit .340 with 40 stolen bases in one season — and all of that is easily within reach for Trout.
  • His 6.9 WAR leads the Majors, according to FanGraphs.com, with Andrew McCutchen ranking second at 6.0. Among outfielders, he’s ninth in UZR, at 7.8.
  • He robbed J.J. Hardy of a home run with a ridiculous catch in Camden Yards on June 27. It’s been the reigning Web Gem for over a month.
  • He then did it again, this time to Gordon Beckham, on Saturday. According to ESPN, he’s the only player in the Majors to rob two homers this year.
  • Trout went into August with a .353 batting average, 18 homers and 31 steals. The only other player in Major League history to hit at least .350 with 15 homers and 30 steals before Aug. 1 was Henderson, who batted .352 with 16 homers and 47 steals during the first four months of his 1985 season with the Yankees.
  • He’s the first AL player ever to win Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in the same month.
  • He also won Rookie of the Month honors three times in a row (May, June and July). The only other player to do that was Ichiro Suzuki in April, May and June in 2001.
  • With 32 runs in July, Trout tied Hal Trosky (Indians, 1934) for the all-time MLB rookie runs record for July.
  • Trout set the AL record for July home runs by a rookie, with 10. It also tied the Angels’ club record for rookie homers in any month (Wally Joyner, May 1986).
  • In his first 81 games, Trout scored 80 runs and drove in 55, combining for 135 runs plated. The last rookie to have that many through his first 81 games was Joe DiMaggio in 1936 (87 runs, 83 RBIs).
  • The only other player since 1920 to have as many hits (116), RBIs (55) and stolen bases (31) in his first 81 games of a season as Trout was George Sisler in 1922.
  • He’s swiped 27 consecutive bases and counting, building on a club record that was previously held by Gary Pettis in 1985 (22 straight). The last time Trout was caught stealing was June 4.
  • On May 1, Trout got a bunt single and ran a 3.53 from home to first — and he started from the right side of the batter’s box. That’s scary fast. Watch it here.
  • On May 18, Trout hit a triple on a ball down the left-field line.
  • Since May 1, Trout leads the Majors in runs (86) and times on base (163), and second in hits (122).
  • From July 5-23, Trout scored a run in 15 consecutive games. That streak tied the modern Major League rookie record, set a new AL rookie mark and established an Angels franchise record.
  • The only two players in the last 63 years who have led a league in batting average and stolen bases are Ichiro (2001) and Jackie Robinson (1949).
  • As part of a 4-for-6 game against the Tigers on July 17, Trout hit this long homer to the right-center-field portion of the massive Comerica Park. That homer traveled 442 feet, making it the second-longest opposite-field homer this year, according to ESPN.
  • He also hit one into downtown Cleveland on July 3.
  • In July, he became the 20th player in Major League history to be selected to the All-Star Game before his 21st birthday.
  • Then, with a clean single up the middle off the Mets’ R.A. Dickey, Trout — at 20 years, 338 days old — became the youngest player to record a hit in the All-Star Game since Detroit Hall of Famer Al Kaline in 1955, and third-youngest overall.
  • He has a 1.027 OPS against righties and a .964 OPS against lefties. His batting average is .293 when behind in the count, .377 with runners in scoring position and .392 versus Texas.
  • The Angels went 6-14 before Trout joined them on April 28. Since then, they’re 52-37, which is second-best in the AL.

Cheers, to 21 years.

 — Alden 

Salmon gets five Hall of Fame votes

Results are in from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with Barry Larkin being the only one elected and longtime Angels outfielder Tim Salmon getting five votes (or, .9 percent in his favor) in his first year on the ballot.

“It wasn’t on my radar, because I had no visions of me getting enough votes or even being in the conversation,” Salmon said when reached by phone Monday. “It was just one of those pleasant surprises like, ‘Oh yeah, today’s the Hall of Fame voting. Hey, I got five votes; all right, cool. I wonder who they are. I have to put them on my Christmas-card list.'”

Considering you need 5 percent to even stay on the ballot — and a whopping 75 percent to get in — it’s safe to say Salmon won’t be a Hall of Famer. But perhaps the Angels can retire his number one day, alongside Jim FregosiGene AutryRod CarewNolan RyanJimmie Reese and Jackie Robinson (league-wide).

Salmon never made an All-Star team in his 14-year career — spent entirely in an Angels uniform — but he did post a career .282 batting average, .884 OPS, 299 home runs and 1,016 RBIs. He was the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1993, won a Silver Slugger in 1995 and was one of baseball’s top sluggers from 1993-2000 — batting .294 while averaging 28 homers and 94 RBIs per season.

Salmon was especially key during the Angels’ uplifting World Series run in 2002 — a year that saw him get named American League Comeback Player of the Year — batting .288 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 16 games.

What do you think — does Salmon deserve to have his No. 15 retired by the club? (I’m guessing this will be a resounding “yes.”)

** A post is up on the Hot Stove Blog on the Angels touching base with veteran closer Francisco Cordero

– Alden 

The state of African-American players in baseball

MIAMI — I had the honor of being at Sun Life Stadium for Jackie Robinson Day on Thursday, when the Marlins hosted the Reds, and prior to that night’s game, I was roaming around the Reds’ clubhouse looking for African-Americans to talk to about Jackie Robinson and the current state of black players in baseball. 

So, there was Cincinnati outfielder Chris Dickerson, sitting in front of his locker and reading a magazine in silence. I quietly went up to him, introduced myself and asked if he would have a couple of minutes to talk at some point that afternoon, so he sprung up, ran to the trash can to spit out his gum and came right back ready for questions. 
I wanted to talk to you about Jackie Robinson Day, I said. 

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With that, Dickerson’s shoulders dropped, a grin surfaced on his face, and he quipped, Of course you do. 

Why do you say that? I asked. 
Because it’s Jackie Robinson Day, and I’m one of three African-Americans in here, so I’m going to be answering a question, or two, about it, he responded.
It’s true. The Reds have just Dickerson (pictured left; The Associated Press), Brandon Phillips and Arthur Rhodes as African-American players, in addition to manager Dusty Baker and first-base coach Billy Hatcher. On the Marlins’ end, there is only one: Cameron Maybin.
“They [Major League Baseball] have to do things to appeal to African-Americans,” Maybin, who wears No. 24 as a reverse to Robinson’s 42, said. “It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to do it. RBI [the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program] is great, but I’m sure you can always do more. You can always do more. That’s just my personal opinion.”
RBI was established in 1989 and continues to grow in its mission to implant baseball in inner cities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the equipment and fields to play it. 
Maybin and Dickerson both agreed that the majority of African-Americans living in low-income communities gravitate to basketball and football mostly because, well, it’s easier to. You can put a hoop almost anywhere, so you pick up a basketball and you just start playing. With football, you buy a ball, get some friends and an open field, and there you go. Baseball? You need gloves, cleats, a specially designed field, bats and at least 18 players. 
“In inner cities, the way out of those environments is through football and basketball,” Dickerson said. “It’s cheaper, and there’s not necessarily sprawling [baseball] fields in those types of environments. So, this sport isn’t necessarily as accessible as it should be, and that is why you’ve seen the decrease over the years.”
A recent USA Today story referenced the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in writing that in 2009, MLB had its first increase of African-American players on Opening Day rosters in 15 years, at 10.2 percent. This year, though, according to the newspaper’s own research, it’s down to 9.5 percent, and 17 teams had two or fewer African-American players on their Opening Day rosters.
Dickerson and Maybin — and I, for that matter — agree that RBI is a great program, and it’s a great first step in helping African-American involvement increase once again. But they don’t believe it’s an end-all, be-all. 
Dickerson, seemingly a very intellectual guy, made another great point in that regard.
“Marketing has to do with that,” he said. “You can’t necessarily market a cleat or a turf shoe that kids are going to go out and buy. You have basketball shoes, you have NFL shoes. You can wear the Michael Vicks, you can wear the LaDainian Tomlinson shoe to school or whatever. Nobody wears baseball turfs to class. And that’s how you market them. You’re drawing these young influences to an alternate sport, to basketball — the LeBron Jameses, the Carmelo Anthonys.”
Dickerson said when he was growing up in California, Ken Griffey Jr. was the guy he idolized. He bought the Swingman shoes, and he tried to emulate that sweet lefty stroke. 
That brings me to Jason Heyward. The Braves’ super prospect has often been compared to Griffey because of his quick rise to the big leagues, the unbelievable tools he has at such a young age and the hype that has surrounded him.
So, can he be the next Griffey in terms of guiding more prominent African-American players to the game?
“He very well could,” Dickerson said. “And it’s exciting. It is, having players like that, having young, African-American phenom players like Jason Heyward. It’s a sign of what could be, potential — marketing and for the game of baseball. Hopefully he can be that beacon of light for these communities in the United States to bring that focus back to young kids, saying, ‘I want to play baseball like Jason Heyward,’ or whoever.”
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– Alden Gonzalez

(pictured, from left, courtesy of AP: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano during “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium)

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