Trout, Doolitte in MLB All-Star Game

by Marc Narducci; photo Marc Narducci | Jul 16, 2014
Trout, Doolitte in MLB All-Star Game South Jersey has always been known as a strong baseball area, and all one had to do was look at this year’s MLB all-star game as another example.

Two of the American League all-stars were standouts in South Jersey. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout (pictured), as everybody knows, is the pride of Millville. Oakland A’s reliever Sean Doolittle was a standout two-way performer at Shawnee.

When Trout returned in May for a two-game series against the Phillies, he attracted thousands of fans, many from the Millville area, but also a number from South Jersey who have enjoyed his staggering success.

Consider that Trout won’t turn 23 until Aug. 7. He has been runnerup for the American League MVP award the previous two seasons. This is already his third all-star appearance and his first start. And now with the Angels heading to the all-star game with the second most wins in baseball, he is the leading MVP candidate this season.

At the all-star break, Trout was hitting .310 with 22 home runs, 73 RBIs and an outlandish 1.005 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS). He also leads the American league in WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement. This calculates the number of additional wins their team has amassed relative to the number of expected team wins if that player was substituted. Trout’s WAR figure is 5.5.

Not only that, but Trout has become one of the true faces of the game, especially with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter retiring after this season.

Trout is a player who has never forgotten where he came from, and embraces his local roots. And he has signed a six-year, $144-million contract extension.

What has made Trout so special is that he never allows the pressure to get to him. In fact, he seems to thrive on it. For instance, his senior year in high school, each game he was monitored by countless professional scouts.

Some players have been known to crumble from the attention, but Trout did the opposite. He set a South Jersey record by hitting 18 home runs his senior year.

And he hasn’t stopped hitting since turning pro shortly after graduating from Millville.

Doolittle, who turns 28 in September, earned his first all-star appearance. He has a 2.89 ERA, 14 saves and a 0.66 WHIP (Walks and hits per innings pitched). His career path was drastically different than Trout’s.

After graduating from Shawnee in 2004, Doolittle attended the University of Virginia, where he was a first baseman and pitcher.

He actually began his minor league career as a first baseman, and in 2008 had 603 plate appearances. Doolittle eventually turned to pitching, and now he is one of the top relievers in baseball.

Like Trout, he left his mark in high school, earning The Philadelphia Inquirer’s South Jersey Player of the Year in his junior and senior seasons. During his junior year at Shawnee, he pitched the Renegades to the state Group 4 championship.

What’s interesting is that while the Angels have the second best record (57-37), the A’s are No. 1 with a 59-36 mark. So Trout and Doolittle, after one day of being all-star teammates, will be battling to win the American League West and to earn baseball’s best record.

And it will be a reminder every time they compete that these two are currently the best South Jersey has to offer.

Photo (Marc Narducci): Mike Trout

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Author: Marc Narducci; photo by Marc Narducci


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