Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon rejoin Angels lineup as Shohei Ohtani makes history with two-way appearance

Here in the era of social media, each team account on Twitter has a routine on gameday that includes tweeting out the starting lineup for the day. Monday evening, the Angels account posted the lineup for their game against the Rangers in Texas, and it also said, “there’s a lot to emotionally process here.” 

True story. It’s a lot more loaded than it looked this past series in Houston. 

What jumps out immediately are three things: 

  1. Anthony Rendon is back from the injured list.
  2. Mike Trout has returned to the lineup. 
  3. Shohei Ohtani is pitching and hitting second in the order. 

On the first point, Rendon has only appeared in eight games this season. He injured his groin just over a week into the season. Rendon is such a good hitter that he changes the entirely complexion of a lineup with his ability to work deep counts. In the previous four seasons, Rendon hit .307/.399/.550 (145 OPS+). Last season, his first with the Angels, he walked more than he struck out, a feat he also pulled off in 2017. 

Trout hasn’t played since getting hit with a pitch in the elbow last Thursday. We know all about how good Trout is, but he’s been on another level this season, even with his established standard of greatness being the measuring stick. He’s slashing .393/.521/.804, good for a 270(!) OPS+. He leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. 

Ohtani is hitting .286/.321/.662 (170 OPS+). He’s tied for the major-league lead with seven homers while also tied for the AL lead with two triples. Only J.D. Martinez has more total bases. 

And he’s the pitcher. Per Major League Baseball, this is the first time the pitcher is in a lineup while leading the league in homers since … Babe Ruth. Yep. 

The Angels started the season 7-3, but have since struggled and now sit evened up at 10-10. Part of the issue is that while they have immense elite-level talent in this trio, they aren’t very deep. They were 6-2 in Rendon starts and have gone 4-8 without him. They took two losses over the weekend without Trout, too. 

The lineup now at full strength is pretty stout, especially with these three (Ohtani, Trout, Rendon) in between quality leadoff man David Fletcher (he’s struggling so far this year, but perhaps getting everyone back will kickstart him) and slugging five-hole hitter Jared Walsh

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