On Thursday, June 28, the balloting for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game will come to an end. Unfortunately, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is one of the players who won't be elected to the team during the initial voting process. However, there is little doubt that he deserves to be an All-Star.
Entering play on June 26, Trout leads the American League in hitting (.338 BA) and stolen bases (21), while ranking third in on-base percentage (.399) and fifth in triples (3). Among players listed as center fielders in the A.L., Trout's numbers compare well with the Detroit Tigers' Austin Jackson, and the Chicago White Sox's Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza.
As noted by the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett, no one has scored more runs (41) or has been on base more times (92) than Trout since May 1. If that isn't a strong case to be on the American League All-Star team, then I don't know what else should be expected of him as a leadoff hitter.
The problem is that Trout's illness during spring training cost him the opportunity to start the season with the club. As a result, he wasn't in the starting lineup on Opening Day and was left off the ballot when the Angels submitted its nominees to the league.
It's clear to me that Trout deserves to be on the All-Star team. He's been the catalyst that has pushed the Angels out of last-place and back into the pennant chase. Trout's performance has helped transform the lineup from one of the MLB's weakest to potentially one of the most dangerous offenses in the A.L. Without him, I think the Angels' batting order would still be struggling. That's how valuable Trout has become in his two months with the Angels this season. He's a star, and stars belong in the Midsummer Classic.
One thing is clear about Trout: he's just getting started. There's still a chance that he could make the team through the league's rather complicated selection process. However, even if he isn't on the A.L. roster this season, there is little doubt that the Angels have a star on their hands. He's going to be featured in the All-Star Game for years to come.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of the Angels since childhood. His favorite Angels moment is when they won the 2002 World Series in seven games over the San Francisco Giants. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.