How to neutralize Angels’ Mike Trout


(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Despite being just 22 years old, Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels is the best hitter in baseball. Last season he batted .323 had an on-base percentage of .432 and a .557 slugging with while leading the American League in runs (109) and walks (110), plus he set a franchise record with his on-base percentage. He also led the Majors in Wins Above Replacement (8.9) for a second straight year.

This season it is more of the same. He is in a logjam for second in the MLB for home runs (5) and leads the AL in slugging percentage (.613) through April. However, he does have the one weakness all hitters face: he can’t hit if he doesn’t make contact. Fastballs high and inside have historically been a pitcher’s best bet at making Trout swing and miss but this season it appears sliders down and away from right-handed pitchers have been the most difficult for Trout to make contact.

Source: Baseball Savant
Source: Baseball Savant

In the small sample size of the 2014 season, Trout has struck out 22 times in 83 plate appearances, more than either of the last two seasons.

But if you take a shot at the king you best not miss. Trout is hitting  .471/.500/1.294 with four home runs in 18 plate appearances the first time he faces a starting pitcher. He has just four strikeouts in those at bats.

I didn’t say it would be easy.

 

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg | April 21