CINCINNATI — American League ballbuster Mike Trout led off Tuesday night’s 6-3 Mid-summer Classic win over the National League at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati with a boombastic blast, becoming the sixth player in All-Star Game history to hit a leadoff homer and the first since Bo Jackson in 1989.
The others include Frankie Frisch (1934), Lou Boudreau (1942), Willie Mays (1965) and former Red Joe Morgan (1971).
And if Bo knew baseball, then Trout knows a thing or two about MVP Awards. The 23-year-old young stunna finished second in MVP voting both of his first two seasons, losing to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, before finally breaking through and winning it last season. He joined Mickey Mantle as the only players who finished as MVP runner-up in consecutive seasons before winning in the following season.
Trout and legendary names seem to just go hand and hand. The center fielder proved that he was the best of the best by winning the 2014 All-Star MVP Award and he became the first player in MLB history to win the award two years in a row by securing the honor again on Tuesday.
“It feels awesome,” said Trout, who also grounded into what appeared to be a routine double play in the fifth inning, but beat it out, and then scored the go-ahead run on Prince Fielder’s pinch-hit single, taking just 6.2 seconds to score from second base. “The whole experience was fun.”
Adding more prestige to his feat is the fact that he hit his leadoff dinger off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke, who hadn’t given up a run since June 13.
The accolades and praise from his fellow All-Stars and the MLB community just keep flowing for the Jersey boy, who hit the ground running as AL Rookie of The Year in 2012, leading baseball in steals (49) and runs scored (129). His impact hasn’t subsided and if anything his mythical stature is growing by the day.
“He’s the best player in the game, the most talented baseball player I’ve ever seen,” said Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who homered in his first All-Star Game appearance. “The power, speed, defense, he’s the best in everything he does.”
“When he was taking batting practice Tuesday, I told him, ‘Hey, hold on for a minute, I’m going to grab a pen and paper from my locker to take some notes and bring them back to. I don’t want to miss anything.”’
With the homer, Trout has now hit safely in each of his four All-Star Games, and is batting 5-for-10 with a homer, two doubles, a triple, three RBI and three runs scored. His .500 career batting average in All-Star games is tied for second -best all-time among players with at least 10 at-bats, behind Richie Ashburn (.600).
Trout is also the 15th player in All-Star history to record a hit in each of his first four All-Star game appearances. The only players to put together a longer streak are Morgan (7), Willie Mays (6), Carlos Beltran (5), David Wright (5) and Steve Garvey (5).
Despite Trout only being in MLB for four years, Yankees All-Star first baseman Mark Texeira said, “By the time he’s done playing…he’s going to be the best of all time.”
That’s saying a lot considering elite players such as Willie Mays, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench were in the building. I wouldn’t go that far just yet, but it’s indisputable that Trout is making a mockery of the opposition every time he steps on the field and posting all-around stats that definitely will put him in the G.O.A.T. conversation if he can keep up this wickedly superior pace.
When the lights are on, Trout seems to always outshine his competition. The next logical step is getting his 48-40, AL West Division-leading LA Angels into the postseason for the first time in his career and displaying his freakish talents on baseball’s grandest stage — the World Series.
Regular season games and All-Star contests are where stars are born and fan favorites cement their permanent places in the hearts of baseball lovers. Postseason games signify the birth of legends and it’s only a matter of time before Trout faces and conquers that challenge as well.
With former Yankees icon Derek Jeter retired, MLB is searching for a new face of the game and despite the influx of young, polished talent pouring into the league, Trout seems to be the unanimous choice as Jeter’s successor.
“The Derek Jeter generation in the last few years came to the end of their careers,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We have a great new crop of young players.”
And no offense to Bryce Harper who is hitting .339 or Joc Pederson who hits the ball as far as anybody, but Trout remains at the top of that food chain and the scary part is he’s just getting started.