The Midsummer Classic does still showcase the best baseball players in the world, sort of. The rule that one player from each team has to go to the game has diluted the pool, but usually, the best players in baseball make ?the game.
One player who will undoubtedly make the game is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Trout, because Mike Trout is the best player in baseball.
A criticism commonly leveled at baseball is its so-called “star problem”: the absence of a LeBron James- or Richard Sherman-like star in the game. Trout could be the answer to that problem. Every sport and every team looks for the player that forces sports fans to switch to their games when they become involved.
Trout is downright dominant at the plate. He leads the American League in on-base plus slugging percentage, or OPS. He has 56 RBIs, 18 home runs, 21 doubles and a .314 ?batting average.
On the other side of the ball, Trout is truly transcendent. Advanced statistics don’t always reward Trout the way they perhaps should, because they frequently deal with hypothetical statistics. But there’s a reason Trout finds himself on Sportscenter or MLB Network’s “Web Gems” series so often.
Trout can leap high above walls to save home runs, chase down any ball hit to his area and dive for many that are not. When I grew up going to Atlanta Braves games, people used to say, “Two-thirds of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by Andruw Jones,” the then-best defensive outfielder in the nation. For Trout, that might be under-selling him. Andruw Jones was a great player, true, but Trout is a generational talent.
Another common objection to the National Pastime is its supposed inherent boredom. It’s hard to understand, however, how one could find a player with the competitive spirit of LeBron James and the physical talent of any number of NFL players boring. If you’re not a baseball fan, give Trout a chance. If you are a baseball fan, and you haven’t seen Trout, then the All-star game airs July 15 on FOX.