The Allure of the One-Man Show
Bill James has written about this — in the 1985 playoffs against Toronto, Kansas City’s George Brett had one of the greatest games a player has ever had. The Royals had lost the first two games of the series and so, obviously, needed to win Game 3 or make their winter vacation plans. Brett said to his teammates: “Jump on my back.”
Then he delivered his game for the ages — 4-for-4, two homers, a double (that went off the top of the wall), directly responsible for five of the six runs the Royals scored (he scored four of them and drove in another), plus he made probably his greatest defensive play when he ranged far to his right, made a backhand stab and threw off-balance to the plate to get Damáso García and save a run.
I mean, you just can’t do much more than that.
But, as Bill points out, the Royals STILL almost lost that game. They trailed 5-2 at one point (and were lucky it was that close — the Blue Jays left the bases loaded in the fifth inning), and didn’t score the winning run until the bottom of the eighth. The point is that there’s only so much one player can do — even a player having an all-time game like George Brett does not guarantee victory.
Such is the lot of Mike Trout. He has had the misfortune of spending his brilliant career playing for one of the oddest teams in baseball, a team that doesn’t seem to know where they play (California Angels, Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Angels …), a team that has the longest consecutive stretch of losing seasons, and yet a team that will spend money in an effort to win.
But the WAY the Angels spend money is exactly what we’re talking about here. I’ve been doing a little research about giant contracts lately. It’s kind of interesting.