Matthews: Mike Trout: As Close To A Perfect Player In Baseball Today

MIKE TROUT: AS CLOSE TO A PEFRECT PLAYER IN BASEBALL TODAY

If any baseball player is worth $430 million for 12 seasons, California Angels center fielder Mike Trout is the one. He’s that good.

Trout is very close to being the perfect baseball player. He’s a terrific hitter and defensive outfielder. He almost always is successful stealing bases (189 in 223 attempts). He always hustles and hardly ever makes a mistake on the field. He’s a great teammate and role model. He even has the look of a great player.

All of the fancy new-age statistical measures say Trout is by far the best player in MLB, and they project him to age well. He turns 28 on August 7 and has many prime seasons ahead of him.

Trout’s only minor flaws are merely a decent throwing arm and too many strikeouts. It isn’t his fault that he plays on the West Coast and the Angels don’t often appear on prime-time national TV. It isn’t his fault that the Angels hardly ever make the postseason, mainly due to a lack of pitching.

Trout’s only postseason experience was in 2014.He batted .083 (1-for-15; the only hit was a home run) in a three-game loss to Kansas City.

In seven full seasons, Trout was the American League Most Valuable Player twice, second four times and fourth once.

He’s ranked first in the American League in wins above replacement four times and WAR among position players five times. He’s led the AL in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) three times each. His excellent career numbers include .416 on-base percentage; .573 slugging percentage; .990 OPS (on-base % + slugging percentage).

He has played in seven All-Star Games in as many full seasons.

There aren’t many baseball people who’ll dispute that Trout is the best player in the game today. A much better question – who is the second-best player? My pick today (subject to change tomorrow) is Francisco Lindor and he’s no Trout.

I wonder if Trout is the most obvious best all-around player in his era since Babe Ruth in the 1920s.

SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS...

Cheers to the Toronto Blue Jays for giving their minor-league players 50 percent pay raises across the board.

Some minor-leaguers make as little as $1,100 per month and sometimes can’t afford cleats. They often eat at fast-food stops and sleep in crowded motel rooms.

Major League Baseball Players Association boss Tony Clark praised the Blue Jays and said he hopes other organizations will follow suit.

I wonder why the major-league players’ union doesn’t contribute to the cause. How much could donating 1 percent of a millionaire’s contract hurt them? All but a handful of current major-leaguers toiled in the minors. They should be sympathetic to the plight of the guys in the bush leagues.

xxx I sort of feel sorry for Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis. He’s in the running for the worst player in the majors but he has four years left on his seven-year, $161 million contract...Davis batted .168 (79-for-470) last season and struck out 192 times. He’s in mid-season form this spring. Entering Monday, he was hitting .190 (4-for-21) with 11 strikeouts.

xxx Has Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton finally seen the light?He’s batting .448 this spring (13-for-29), with 3 doubles, 4 HRs and 13 RBI. Best number of them al -- only 4 strikeouts...If the Twins upset Cleveland for the AL Central, Buxton could finish in the top three in league MVP balloting.

xxx Ichiro Suzuki, 45 years old, started for Seattle in Wednesday’s Major League Baseball season-opening two-game series against Oakland in Tokyo...Is Ichiro a future first-ballot baseball Hall of Famer? Why not?

K-HAWKS SURE DO MISS DANGEROUS DAN DAWSON AND MATT VINC

Two reasons the Rochester Knighthawks are 2-10 and won’t make the National Lacrosse League playoffs is that Dan Dawson and Matt Vinc aren’t playing for them. Both are certain future K-Hawks Hall of Famers.

Dawson was traded to Saskatchewan last season. He was moved to give younger players more time of the floor. He was selected by the San Diego Seals in this season’s expansion draft.

Vinc signed as a free agent with Buffalo in the offseason because he didn’t want to make the move to Halifax next season and the Bandits offered him a multi-year contract.

Dawson, 37, has 17 goals and 31 assists for 48 points in 11 games for San Diego. The Gulls lead the Western Conference with a 7-4 record.

Vinc at age 36 is closing in on his seventh NLL Goaltender of the Year honors. He has an 11-1 record and leads the league in victories, saves and save percentage (.796). He’s second in goals-against average (10.61).

Meanwhile, Rochester’s Angus Goodleaf, behind an aging defense, is 2-8 and ranks last in goals-against average (13.65) and is second-last in save percentage (.750). It’s certainly not all his fault.

SOME FUN FUTURES ODDS ON THE PGA

Odds to win the four golf majors in 2019:

Zero – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each bet $400 to win $100...Brooks Koepka bet $450 to win $100...Dustin Johnson bet $500 to win $100...Phil Mickelson bet $2500 to win $100.

Win one or more – Woods and McIlroy each bet $100 to win $250...Johnson bet $100 to win $270...Koepka bet $100 to win $300...Mickelson bet $2100 to win $750.

Win all four – Woods bet $100 to won $20,000...Koepka bet $100 to win $25,000...Johnson, McIlroy. Mickelson each bet $100 to win $50,000.

Win the 2019 World Cup: USA bet $140 to win $100...Europe bet $100 to win $140...Tie bet $100 to win $1,100.

(Odds courtesy of MYBOOKIE sportsbook).

SOME NOTES ON AMERKS ATTENDANCE

Entering last weekend, Rochester ranked 19th in the 31-team American Hockey League in average home attendance at 5,077. That included one inflated “home game” crowd in Buffalo.

Rochester will have played 11 Wednesday home games this season (including the one in Buffalo). Why so many? The Amerks try to avoid energy-sapping three-game weekends.

The AHL attendance leader was San Diego (8,987), followed by Hershey (8,821), Cleveland (8,461), Charlotte (6,785) and Toronto (6,340). The bottom two were Binghamton (3,378) and Belleville (3,044).

The all-time best average attendance for the Amerks was 8,529 for the 2000-01 season. I assume it was somewhat inflated. Rochester had a second-most 104 points in the standings (46-22-9-3 record) before being upset by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs).

The average crowds for Rochester’s six Calder Cup-winning teams were 4,261 (1964-65 season); 5,257 (1965-66); 5,436 (1967-68); 5,468 (1982-83); 6,054 (1986-87); and 6,091 (1995-96).

The average home crowd for the inaugural Amerks season in 1956-57 was 5,538. They outdrew the Royals in what was NBA team’s final season in Rochester.

(attendance data courtesy of Hockeydb.com).

MORE PRAISE FOR BRANDON BEANE

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane continues to get rave reviews for his work in free agency.

The savvy sports website The Ringer selected Buffalo one of the eight teams “that have defined the 2019 offseason.”

Robert Mays wrote, “Beane may not have made any headline-grabbing deals in free agency, but collectively, Buffalo has used its abundance of cap space in fascinating ways...The Bills didn’t give (rookie QB) Josh Allen much chance to succeed last season, but in Year 2, they’re providing Allen with a much better infrastructure – and they aren’t breaking the bank to do it.”

...”The Bills transactions thus far have been impressive, as they have filled many holes on their offense already. This sets the team up for a successful draft, as the club can focus on the remaining voids on the roster.”

LEHNER VERSUS HUTTON AND ULLMARK

Former Buffalo Sabres goalie is Robin Lehner is enjoying a better first season with the New York Islanders than his successors in Buffalo – Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark – are experiencing:

Lehner – 20-11-5 record; 2.19 GAA; .927 save percentage; 4 shutouts; .545 save percentage in shootouts (6-for-11)

Hutton – 17-20-5 record; 2.88 GAA; .910 save percentage; 0 shutouts; .522 save percentage in shootouts (12-for-23)

Ullmark – 14-12-4 record; 3.13 GAA; .906 save percentage; 2 shutouts; .900 save percentage in shootouts (9-for-10).

SHORT SHOTS

Let’s compare baseball’s two highest-paid players based on 162-game averages for their MLB careers so far (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

Mike Trout .307 batting average (181-for-589); 121 runs; 34 doubles; 7 triples; 37 HRs; 99 RBI; 29-for-34stolen bases; 105 walks; 152 strikeouts; .416 on-base %; .573 slugging %; .990 OPS.

Bryce Harper .279 batting average (161-for-578); 107 runs; 32 doubles; 3 triples; 32 HRs; 91 RBI; 13-for-18 stolen bases; 102 walks; 146 strikeouts; .388 on-base %; .512 slugging %; .900 OPS.

Trout wsas born Aug. 7, 1991. Harper was born Oct. 16, 1992.

xxxThe U.S. men’s soccer team will play friendly matches against Ecuador Thursday in Orlando (8 p.m., ESPN2) and against Chile March 26 in Houston (7:55 p.m., ESPN2). Coach Gregg Berhalter will have young stars Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie on his squad. They’re all playing well in Germany’s top league.

xxxThe Spun (bttps://thespun/2019-mostannoying) is conducting a clever pollinvolving the 64 Most Annoying People in Sports Media. The one seeds: Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Jim Rome, Colin Cowher...The two seeds: Max Kellerman, Dick Vitale, Clay Travis, Jason Whitlock...The third seeds: Dan Le Batard, Paul Finebaum, Will Cain, Dan Dakich. I don’t think they’re all “annoying”, but I know they’re all rich.

xxxTampa Bay’s 4-1 home victory over Arizona Monday night clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the most points in the NHL regular season. The Lightning have 116 points (56-13-4 record) and also have an NHL-best +96 goal differential. Since the Presidents’ Trophy began in the 1985-86 season, the winner went on to win the Stanley Cup only 8 times and lost in the Finals 3 times.

xxxDates to circle for Yankees fans: autograph appearances by former Yankees at Red Wings games June 1 (Bucky Dent) and June 24 (Willie Randolph).

xxxThe number of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border last month was 76,103 – the most for a February in 12 years (stats released by Customs and Border Protection). FYI, the Kansas City Chiefs ranked sixth in NFL average home attendance last season at 75,972.

xxxThe 8 American football players who made ESPN’s annual World Fame 100 (most famous international athletes based on media coverage, social media followings and endorsements): Tom Brady 31st...Odell Beckham Jr., 51st...Colin Kaepernick 57th...Drew Brees 71st...Russell Wilson 77...Aaron Rodgers 82nd...Carson Wentz 89th...Rob Gronkowski 97th.

xxxSports Illustrated’s Conor Orr has defensive tackle Ed Oliver (University of Houston) going No. 9 overall to the Buffalo Bills in the 2019 NFL college draft.

xxxSyracuse U. will participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center during Thanksgiving week, with Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Penn State.

HAPPY SPORTS BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, March 20

Brad Hand 29...Ronnie Brewer 34...Jamal Crawford 39..Ron George 49....Mookie Blaylock 52...Chris Hoiles 54...Leo Rautins 59...pro wrestler Sting 60...Rickey Jackson 61...Charlie Simmer 65...Bobby Orr 71...Pat Riley 74. Barron Trump 13 and Spike Lee 62 are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, March 21

Darius Miller 29...Carlos Carrasco 32...Adrian Peterson 34...Ryan Callahan 34...Aaron Hill 37...Ronaldinho 39...Al Iafrate 53...Shawon Dunston 56...Jay Hilgenberg 60...Tom Flores 82.Scott Eastwood 33, Rosie O’Donnell 57, Matthew Broderick 57 and Gary Oldman 61 are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

March 20

46 years ago (1973), Roberto Clemente was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, 11 weeks after his death in a plane crash...31 years ago (1988), Mike Tyson KOd Tony Tubbs in 2 for the heavyweight boxing title...30 years ago (1989), baseball announced Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose was under investigation.

March 21

78 years ago (1941), Joe Louis KOd Abe Simon in 13 for the heavyweight boxing title...73 years ago (1946), Kenny Washington signed with the Rams, becoming the first black NFL player since 1933...66 years ago today (1953), an NBA-record 106 fouls were called and 12 players fouled out (Boston versus Syracuse)...58 years ago (1961), Art Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns for a then NFL-record $3,925,000...35 years ago (1984), NFL owners passed the controversial anti-celebrating rule.

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