Lyle Spencer

Trout knows value of AL's 'huge' ASG win

Midsummer Classic MVP hoping to capitalize on home-field advantage in postseason

Trout knows value of AL's 'huge' ASG win

ANAHEIM -- Managing Mike Trout is akin to managing fellow New Jersey exports Bruce Springsteen and the late Frank Sinatra. Just sit back, enjoy the show and marvel at greatness night after night.

"The things we see Mike do every day showed up for the home audience," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said as the Major League All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player two years running returned to the embrace of his buddies for a second-half opening with a four-game series against the Red Sox.

Scioscia ran down the list of Trout contributions to the 6-3 American League victory: his leadoff homer off National League starter Zack Greinke; blazing down the line to avert a potential double-play grounder, then scoring from second on a bullet to left field; drawing a full-count walk and watching Boston's Brock Holt -- who can tell his grandkids he pinch-ran for Trout in an All-Star Game -- score.

Even though Trout didn't have to make any exceptional plays in center field, Scioscia alluded to his superb defense.

"He's as good as it gets," the manager said of the kid from Millville, N.J.

Not to be overlooked was Trout's impact again in an important victory. Since MLB gave relevance to the Midsummer Classic's outcome by handing the winning side home-field advantage in the World Series, the club with that edge has won eight of 12 Fall Classics.

The Giants' seven-game triumph over the Royals in Kansas City last year ended a five-year run of championships by clubs owning the home-field advantage.

It did not escape Trout's attention in the afterglow of his latest MVP performance that an AL champion will benefit again from his efforts and those of his All-Star teammates by staging Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 in the 2015 World Series.

"It's obviously huge," Trout said. "I got to talk to a couple of the Royals guys about that, and they said the home-field advantage was electric. To get that extra boost, it definitely could help, for sure."

After leading the Majors with 98 wins last season, the Angels were unable to capitalize on a home edge that awaited them throughout the postseason.

The Royals eliminated the Halos in a three-game AL Division Series sweep after snatching the first two games at Angel Stadium with a series of spectacular defensive plays. Kansas City returned home to finish the job, going on to claim the pennant by sweeping the Orioles in the AL Championship Series.

The Royals' dream season fell a run short in Game 7, a true classic seized in the Show Me State by Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and his three-time champions.

In his whirlwind Cincinnati visit, Trout didn't get a chance to meet Willie Mays or Henry Aaron, honored along with Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench as the Greatest Living Players. But the Angels' 23-year-old superstar did spend some time with a peer at his position.

"I didn't know Lorenzo Cain," Trout said of Kansas City's emerging star, "and I thought that was pretty cool."

Cain and Baltimore's Adam Jones, center fielders by trade, moved to right and left, respectively, with Trout stationed in the middle. Jones was replacing injured Alex Gordon of the Royals.

"That was a great outfield," Trout said, grinning.

Trout rarely stops smiling, by nature, so it's no surprise that his response to questions about his arrival as the face of baseball is met in that familiar manner.

"As a player, it's definitely a humbling statement," Trout said. "I just go out and try to play."

A unanimous AL MVP Award winner in 2014, Trout entered the second half tied with teammate Albert Pujols for the AL home run lead with 26. Trout leads the league with 68 runs scored and 199 total bases, his .614 slugging percentage well ahead of runner-up Miguel Cabrera's .578. Trout trails only Cabrera in on-base percentage, and his .312 batting average is the league's sixth best.

With a little help, Trout could contend for an AL Triple Crown. His 55 RBIs have him seven off the pace of AL leader Mark Teixeira. Only four AL players are hitting for a higher average with runners in scoring position than Trout's .370.

Surging past the Astros to lead the AL West at the break, the Halos appear to have the weapons to forge an October run. A return to form in perhaps 10 days by longtime ace Jered Weaver from hip inflammation would be a lift.

"We need to build depth, not only on the offensive side but in the bullpen," Scioscia said. "We don't have a lot of bats hanging around if a guy goes down."

Not that Scioscia is complaining, mind you. When you're the only manager Trout has known at the big league level, you know Lady Luck is your companion.

Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.