We’ve seen it all too many times in sports: The overly exuberant young player hustles himself into a crippling injury or exposes himself to long-term wear and tear. The adoration of fans is intoxicating, and thus it is no surprise that young, phenom athletes can fatally push themselves past their bodily limits (i.e. Jeremy Lin). In baseball especially, it is the base-stealing specimen who tend to experience more of these injuries.
Make no mistake Los Angeles Angels fans, Mike Trout hustles. He gives it 100% every time he’s in the field, and he loves stealing bases. But he appears to have maturity well beyond what his 22 years would lead one to believe.
The Los Angeles Times quoted Trout saying, “If it’s sore, I’m not going to push it. I’m a speed guy. I’ve got to take care of my legs.”
If Trout maintains this attitude, it could have huge implications for his career. Given the value he brings to every facet of the game, it would be foolish to risk his health in order to maximize only one area of his game: his speed on the base paths.
Perhaps witnessing the wreckage that fellow outfielder Peter Bourjos made of his body caused Trout to be extra cautious when evaluating his hamstring soreness. Albert Pujols‘ plantar fascia tear, allegedly the result of years of playing through pain, must have also loomed large in Trout’s consciousness.
Finally, his reduced base-stealing numbers this year show that Trout can dial it down when he senses he can. After setting a blistering pace of 49 stolen bases through 139 games last year, Trout has slowed down to 28 bases through 122 games, a more than respectable total.
For all his prowess on the field, Mike Trout’s precocious maturity might give him a “sixth tool” that makes him an even more dangerous player.