Mike Trout had a “down year” from years past, but he should win the American League MVP in 2014 if the voting goes the way people think it will. The 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft was Rookie of the Year in 2012, and finished second in MVP voting. He finished second in the MVP voting again in 2013. He has been an All-Star in three consecutive seasons and has won two Silver Sluggers so far. Those are all great, but Mike Trout like every other human, isn’t perfect.
This is part one of a two part series about how to get Mike Trout out. First I will start out with one of his major flaws. The one thing that really sticks out as a flaw about his game is the inability to hit the pitch up in the zone. He recorded 173 hits on the season, but only 15 were in the upper part of the zone or out of the zone above the letters. Four of them were for extra-bases, two of them leaving the yard. That is compared to 24 pitches in the bottom half or below the zone going over the wall.
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A lot of players struggle with pitches up in the zone, but Trout’s stick out, because he is such a good low ball hitter when the pitch is in the zone. You will see his other flaw tomorrow, (hint) the pitch low and out of the zone but, just imagine if he could hit a pitch at the letters with just a little bit of consistency? Teams are looking at the same numbers I am and more, so don’t expect teams to consistently pitch low in the zone to Trout anymore.
Trout makes a lot of contact, just over 81 percent for his career, but when he misses it is up or low and out of the zone . The following chart illustrates this, showing that he swings and misses more in the upper three zones than almost the other six strike zones combined. (58 to 61 whiffs)
Mike Trout whiff percentage in 2014, per zone.
The numbers show that teams liked to pitch Trout low and away or up in the zone on the inside part of the plate. He doesn’t see too many pitches on the inside part of the plate and low for a good reason. That is where the majority of his hits came in 2014. Here are the pitches that Trout saw this season, in each zone.
Teams have begun to notice how to get Trout out and that is by throwing up and in. 56 of his 184 strikeouts came in the up and in zones or up and off the plate. That is compared to just nine hits in those zones. Another 19 strikeouts came on pitches in the middle of the plate, but in the top of the zone. He had two total hits in that part of the zone all season long.
Teams will continue to pitch Trout in these zones until he adjusts. He has adjusted well in years past, but this offseason is going to be an even bigger adjustment. A whole allotment of numbers are being recorded and those numbers are going to be used to try to get Trout out the easiest way possible. At this point, teams know where his weaknesses lie. Tomorrow I will examine the low and away pitch out of the zone that has Trout looking silly!