BALTIMORE — Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols knows a little something about taking the baseball world by storm at a young age.
As a 21-year-old rookie in 2001 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols batted .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs. He was the unanimous selection for National League Rookie of the Year and fourth in the MVP balloting.
Now Pujols has enjoyed seeing Millville product Mike Trout burst on the scene in almost similar fashion. Trout, who missed most of spring training due to illness and a shoulder injury, didn’t join the Angels until April 28, and has dominated ever since.
He entered Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards leading the American League in batting (.338) and stolen bases (21).
“It’s great,” Pujols said before Tuesday’s game. “…The main thing is he doesn’t get caught up in what you guys are making a big deal about him.”
Pujols is headed to the Hall of Fame and is considered one of the greatest hitters of his generation so when he is impressed with a player, one has to take notice.
“He has the skill and it is a blessing God has given him,” Pujols said. “He is a five-took player and he has been using that skill to go out and play the game.”
Trout, who turns 21 on Aug. 7, says he has leaned on veterans including Pujols.
“We talk about little things to hitting, his approach, what he sees up there,” Trout said.
Imagine being able to be counseled by a player the caliber of Pujols.
Trout has been a sponge and the veterans have been more than happy to share their wisdom.
Pujols has a simple message when talking hitting with Trout.
“Probably every day he asks me about hitting and I tell him to keep it simple,” Pujols said. “On this level it’s about how to deal with adversity and when you struggle how you do with the highs and lows.”
In a bit of irony, Pujols has had more lows this year than Trout. Pujols got off to a terrible start although he has heated up recently. Since May 15 he is hitting .324 (47/145) with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs after hitting a two-run home run in Tuesday’s 7-3 win over the Orioles.
Trout went 1 for 5 with a double and run scored and is now batting .335. He feels consistency is a huge part of enjoying sustained success on the Major League level.
“I have been staying with my approach, keeping the same work habits and routine every day and not trying to change it up,” Trout said. “It’s been working for me so far and gotten me through the minor leagues and gotten me here and I figure why try to change if it is working.”
Right now things are working so well that Trout remains a viable candidate to be named an American League all-star when the teams are announced on Sunday.