A Cursed or Blessed Dichotomy? Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout’s ‘Championship-Less’ MVP Heritage

Published 11/18/2023, 7:30 AM EST

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Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout have been two of the highest-ranking members of the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani sent a wave of admiration through the entire MLB upon his debut in 2018 and the Japanese sensation continues to be a focal point in the current offseason trade discussions. Trout, on the other hand, has been one of the most steadfast players on the team since he joined the Angels in the 2011 draft. Seeing these star sluggers’ power, one thing is concerning. Despite clinching multiple MVP awards in the past decade, the duo has yet to savor the taste of a championship victory.

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On an individual level, Ohtani recently was named the 2023 AL MVP. Whereas, Trout, the 11-time All-Star, ended this season with 14 doubles and 18 homers. From an offseason point of view, it is clearly visible that Ohtani is not going to stick with the Angels; no matter the team taking repeated chances to keep him. In contrast, despite enduring another challenging year at the Big A in 2023, Trout has signaled his unwavering commitment to the organization. Hence, a ‘Trout-Trade’ seems unlikely. Although both Ohtani and Trout have been playing impressively for the Halos for years, they have gone ‘championship-less’ throughout.

Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout: Most Valuable Players of the Angel’s Archives

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Shohei Ohtani’s entire career stats boast a baffling 608 strikeouts in 481.2 innings pitched across 86 games played with a WHIP of 1.08. On the batting front, he has bagged 171 homers in 681 hits with a .366 OBP and 437 RBIs. Comparatively, Trout has a career record of .412 OBP and 368 homers in 1624 hits taken, along with 940 RBIs. Two true aces of the lot, aren’t they?

Just on Thursday, they announced Ohtani as the American League’s MVP of this season. Before that, Shotime has already won the MVP award for 2021 season wherein he unveiled his two-way tactics. On the other hand, Mike has won this award in ’14, ’16, and ’19. Trout and Ohtani both have won a total of 5 MVPs in the last ten of them and yet remain far away from adding a ring into their resumes. This situation places a direct spotlight on the team. Are the Angels, as a whole, incapable of providing an opportunity for these two exceptional players to contend for a championship?

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Shohei Ohtani started off his career by breaking the MLB’s homer record for a Japanese player by hitting 19 homers in a single season. After earning the Rookie of the Year award, he went on to break many of Babe Ruth’s iconic records. Ohtani earned his famous moniker “Two-Way Ohtani” after he hit a grand slam in game 1 of a series and threw a complete game shutout in game 2, which was held the very next day. He is formidable both as a pitcher and a hitter; many fans tag him as a six-tool player as opposed to baseball’s best five-tool rule. What is the extra tool in his bag, one might ask? It’s his superb pitching.

Mike Trout entered the MLB scene in 2011; he broke the AL rookie record by crossing home plate in 14 back-to-back games. His record of 26 is tied with Jerry Remy’s record for most stolen bases by a rookie in an All-Star break. The 2012 Rookie of the Year has consistently maintained a high WAR since his debut. He led the AL for his first five seasons, with his current WAR standing at 85.2. Trout currently has nine Silver Sluggers under his belt, among his innumerable other awards. Although they had two literal golden geese on the team, the Angels don’t seem to have a snail’s chance of winning a World Series pennant, and there are odd reasons why.

Stellar Duo, Empty Trophy Case: The Angels’ ‘Unfateful’ Symphony

It seems like luck doesn’t do the Angels much of a favor when it comes to having two of their best players in the same lineup. Despite having two of the best players in the entire MLB on their team, the Angels have remained World Series Championship-less for the last 21 years. 2023 was the Angels’ year to make or break in the Fall Classic; Ohtani’s last year of contract ended this season. However, the team couldn’t just plan a game with both sluggers on the team. Trout was out of the game with a fractured wrist, while Ohtani was shining on the diamond.

Following that, Ohtani got a critical elbow ligament injury and was set aside from pitching for the rest of the season. Trout couldn’t perform at his best as well, as he was still recovering from the previous surgery. Starting with Ohtani’s debut, the sluggers have had the chance to play in 449 games together, in which they have scored 20 multi-home run games. But the Angels could not bring the two together to play consistently for at least 120 games in a single season, and the appearance of the pair together seems to have turned into some kind of myth to look forward to among the team.

Troutani: A blessed dichotomy indeed

The sluggers play exceptionally well together; that doesn’t need any further proof. In the last ten years, they have individually brought five MVP trophies to the team. But if the team doesn’t take care to put their best pieces on the board with a strategical lineup, then no wins will be there in their foreseeable future. Even if they had all the league leaders on their team, they’d have been befallen by strategies.

The Angels should’ve chosen a lineup that would have prevented both Trout and Ohtani from being out at the same time or unavailable in each other’s presence when they still had their form intact. As 2024 approaches, they have few chances to play together again. Although Trout seems to be hell-bent on keeping Ohtani with them; in his words, “I mean, I’m gonna do whatever I can to keep Shohei here for sure”.

However, for a team that has been called out multiple times (Sports Illustrated tagged them as a “Sloppy Supergroup”) for wasting the prime of two of their best players, it remains to be seen whether any of them will stick with the team despite having a medium future; no offense to the Angels fans, but the last time they won the fall classic along with an AL pennant was 21 years ago. They have managed to win only six division titles since then, and that has been it.

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As put by The Slate, “When you have Trout and Ohtani in the same organization, tomorrow can’t matter.”. Sadly enough, tomorrow does matter when it comes to one of the greatest players in the MLB getting ready to leave the club. 2023 might have been disappointing for many teams, but the Angels seem to have the worst of it all when it comes to letting sands of gold slip through their fingers.

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Assuming that the Angels somehow manage to keep Shohei Ohtani despite him declining their last offer, do you think the Ohtani-Trout pairing might work out well for the team’s future? Who else do you think will be a good partner for Trout if Ohtani ventures on another team adventure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Watch This Story: Shohei Ohtani And Babe Ruth Memorabilia Hits Shelves, Igniting Fan Frenzy For Baseball’s Dual Dominators

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Written by:

Shrabana Sengupta

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Shrabana Sengupta, a budding MLB writer for EssentiallySports, has been a fan of the New York Yankees since their school days. In their adolescence, they got to know about the sport from one of the beloved Friends characters, Joey. Their passion blossomed into a reserve of knowledge within the realms of MLB, and with the dynamic evolution of the game, they discovered their true vocation while stumbling upon EssentiallySports, which served as a major catalyst for their entry into the field of sports entertainment journalism.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj

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