Mike Trout is incredibly strong.
Most of his 26 home runs this season traveled farther than my drives during a recent round at Stone Harbor Golf Club. The Millville native leads the American League in homers and heads into the All-Star break on pace to break his personal record of 41 set in 2015.
According to STATS, the 27-year-old joined Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews as the only two players in major league history with eight seasons of at least 25 homers before turning 28.
Besides home runs, Trout leads the league in a slew of other offensive categories, including walks (74), on-base percentage (.454) and slugging percentage (.625). Barring injury, he stands an excellent chance winning his third American League MVP.
Trout is attaining milestones at an alarming rate.
Consider Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper slugged his 200th career home run and 1,000th hit against Atlanta earlier this week in what was his 1,013th career major league game.
Trout smacked his 200th and 201st homers in his 924th career game Sept. 29, 2017. He needed only 879 games to reach 1,000 hits a month earlier.
You can estimate the distances and calculate the exit velocity on Trout’s homers.
His inner strength, however, is immeasurable.
He’s been able to persevere and even thrive while dealing with a pair of heartbreaking personal losses during the last two seasons.
August 15 will mark one year since former Millville High School standout and Angels minor-league pitcher Aaron Cox tragically passed away at age 24. He was not only Trout’s brother-in-law but also one of his best friends.
Trout returned to the Angels 10 days later, during the annual MLB Players Weekend. He was supposed to have “KIIIIID” on the back of his No. 27 jersey but changed it to “A. Cox” in Cox’s memory. Then he hit a triple in his first at-bat.
He went on to enjoy one of his best statistical seasons, batting .312 with 39 home runs, 79 RBIs, 101 runs, and 24 stolen bases in 26 attempts in 140 games. He finished second in the MVP voting to Boston’s Mookie Betts.
Tragedy struck again Monday, when Angels relief pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead at the Angels’ hotel in Arlington, Texas, prior to the start of the team’s series against the Texas Rangers.
Trout and Skaggs were part of the Angels’ 2009 draft class and were roommates while playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernals of the Class A Midwest League in 2010 — Phillies shortstop Jean Segura was also on that team — before Skaggs was traded to Arizona later that season. The Angels reacquired him before the 2014 season.
They remained good friends. Trout, a Philadelphia Eagles’ season-ticket holder, brought Skaggs, a Minnesota Vikings fans, to Lincoln Financial Field for the 2018 NFC Championship game. NBC Sports Anchor John Clark posted a video on Twitter a few days ago that showed Trout razzing Skaggs during the Eagles’ 38-7 victory.
“I can’t explain, man,” Trout told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “Lost a teammate, lost a friend, a brother. It’s bigger than the game, the friendship I had with him and his family. It’s more than that ... It’s going to be tough the rest of the season, the rest of our life, you know?”
Over the years, Trout has grown. He’s now 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, two inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than his senior year at Millville. He’s also emerged as a leader in the clubhouse and on the field, the guy that others look to for advice and guidance.
He also leads by example.
On Wednesday, the Angels’ first game since the tragedy, Trout smacked two home runs. On Thursday, he hit another one.
“There’s a reason (Trout) has broad shoulders,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. “He carries a lot on them.”
Those shoulders, arms and legs have carried him to a bunch of awards and accolades over the years.
His heart, however, is more impressive.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.