Every year I write a blog outlining the most entertaining World Series matchups that don't necessarily involve your favorite team. I'm in the process of doing research for this year so I posted the question on Baseball Reddit and keep getting responses from fans that want to see either Mike Trout versus Bryce Harper or Mike Trout versus Clayton Kershaw. It's the kind of matchup that I hadn't really been considering. The main reason is I had more or less given up on the idea that the Angels would ever make use of Trout's prime. They've just done such an awful job of surrounding him with talent. Additionally, outside of Trout the Halos aren't a very exciting or interesting team.
This is now his sixth full season in the majors and Anaheim has just one playoff berth to show for it. They were swept in three games by the Royals in 2014. Trout went 1-for-12. It's just such a shame that arguably the best player ever has had such little playoff exposure. In hindsight that year was when baseball most needed a deep playoff run by Trout and the Angels. It was Derek Jeter's final season and the sport was looking for it's next "face" (and kinda still is). The dream scenario for MLB would've been for the Angels to play the Nationals in the World Series that year, and have Trout versus Harper become a modern day Magic versus Bird.
It's not as if baseball has had bad World Series matchups in recent years. Cubs and Indians was obviously a dream scenario for last year. A couple seasons before that we got to witness one of the best post-season performances of all time by Madison Bumgarner. Before that we had Red Sox versus Cardinals. But we've never seen any of Trout, Harper, or Kershaw in the Fall Classic. Meanwhile the NBA consistently features Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry in the finals while the NFL has showcased Tom Brady or Peyton Manning seemingly every Super Bowl for the past decade.
Trout in particular is the one baseball fans should want to see in October. I know, he's a boring dude, but he's just so fucking good. As recently as August 9th Craig Edwards of Fangraphs wrote a blog showing how Trout was projected to LEAD THE AL IN WAR despite missing 39 games with a thumb injury. At this point he's going to need an insanely hot finish to pull off the feat, but as of today he still leads his league in OBP, slugging, and OPS. Plus he has 26 homers, 14 steals, and is batting .333. Remember this is all while missing 39 (!!!) games already. Personally I don't believe 120 games of Trout will end up being more valuable than 150 of Jose Altuve, but it's going to be a conversation.
Alright, so baseball doesn't "need" Mike Trout in the playoffs but it would be nice if the Angels could grab that second AL Wild Card spot. Currently they're just a half game behind the Twins. From a marketing perspective MLB should be salivating at the idea of the Angels making it. They could market the shit out of an Aaron Judge vs Mike Trout one game playoff. Both of last year's play in games were fantastic and drew a ton of attention. As fans we deserve to see baseball's best players on one of the sport's biggest stages.