Major League Baseball was jolted with bad news Monday when it was announced that all-universe outfielder Mike Trout — who may go down as baseball’s greatest player ever — will go to the disabled list for the first time in his career. (The Angels’ slugger is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair the UCL in his left thumb after being injured while sliding hands-first into second base during a game against the Miami Marlins on Sunday.)
Estimates have Trout missing six to eight weeks, which would put him back on the field by mid- or late July. Plenty of players have been out for longer stretches, but Trout is so good that the cost to the Angels of losing him for only a couple of months would be on par with season-ending injuries suffered by other star players.
Without Trout, things could get ugly for L.A. Even with Trout and his major-league-leading 3.5 wins above replacement,1 Los Angeles is a game below .500, with a 14 percent chance of making the playoffs. Losing six to eight weeks of Trout would cost the Angels about 2.2 wins,2 according to the method my colleague Rob Arthur and I used to estimate the damage (in WAR) of disabled-list trips.
Going back to 2010,3 a 2.2-WAR DL stint would represent one of the most costly injuries suffered by a team in a season (although not the most costly):
Overall, a seven-week absence for Trout would be the 22nd-most-damaging DL trip in our data set. However, many of the most costly injuries on the list above belonged to pitchers — fragile fireballers who have a tendency to miss enormous amounts of time after Tommy John surgery and other arm ailments. Among non-pitchers, Trout’s DL stint would rank 11th-worst.
It’s also telling that the length of Trout’s layoff only projects to be about 40 percent as long as those of the position players above him. Even when he’s getting injured, Trout manages to remind us how insanely productive he is.
Sadly, we’ll probably have to wait at least a month and a half before we get to see Trout again on a major-league field, and that’s not good for anybody except the pitchers who have to face him. But at least it’ll give someone else a chance to shine as the best player in baseball — a role that Trout’s been hogging for a long time.
Check out our latest MLB predictions.