Where Should Mike Trout Bat in 2015?


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Superstar centerfielder Mike Trout has seen extensive time batting out of the leadoff spot and the number two hole during his first three full seasons in Anaheim. Trout has excelled at the top of the Angels’ lineup, but recently there have been rumblings that it may be time for him to move into the third spot in the Halos batting order.

Mike Trout spent his first two full seasons batting leadoff for the Angels. His rare combination of speed, power and patience made him nearly impossible to stop at the top of the Halos order. Trout batted a combined .324 over his first two full seasons, with 57 home runs, 180 RBI’s and 82 stolen bases. Trouty put up an insane 18.3 oWAR during that stretch. These types of numbers were unparalleled by any leadoff hitter across baseball, and may not be duplicated again for a very long time.

Aug 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) on second base after he doubled in a run in the first inning of the game Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2014 saw Mike Trout transition to the second spot in the Angels lineup, and once again he shined. Trout won his first MVP award this past season after batting .287, with 36 dingers, 111 RBI’s and 16 stolen bases. Trout posted career highs in home runs and RBI’s as his focus shifted slightly to becoming more of a run producer. Trout’s 8.7 oWAR was the second highest single season total of his career. While there was a significant bump in his strikeout rate, and his stolen base numbers were down, Trout’s home runs and RBI’s more than made up the difference.

Angels skipper Mike Scioscia had this to say at the MLB winter Meetings earlier this month regarding how he envisions Trout fitting into the Angels lineup in 2015:

"That’s something we’re talking about right now, it depends on maybe how our roster totally rounds out, if there are any other significant changes or pieces added. I think right now if we open the season tomorrow you would see ‑‑ you would see that lineup that you’re talking about with Mike Trout hitting second. Depending on what happens, you might see Mike hitting third. I think the one thing that I think has played itself out is the fact that Mike, as a leadoff hitter, is not quite as productive as Mike hitting second or third. And I think that’s where his future will be."

Obviously, since this interview the Angels have added that significant piece Scioscia alluded to when they acquired outfielder Matt Joyce. While arguments can be made for Trout remaining in the two hole to open the 2015 season, all signs to point to him sliding into the number three spot.

August 9, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Mike Trout (27) hits a single in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kole Calhoun is a high quality leadoff man, and is the Angels’ best option at the top of the order outside of Trout. Matt Joyce is likely to see significant time at designated hitter for the Halos this season, and he has enjoyed plenty of success hitting out of the two spot during his career. Hitting Joyce in front of Trout would give him a great chance to see plenty of fastballs, and may allow him to recapture his All-Star form. Albert Pujols is one of the most desirable cleanup hitters in all of baseball, and would likely flourish utilized in that role next season. A healthy Josh Hamilton would round out the Angels top five in the lineup. Hamilton was injured for much of 2014, but I believe if he can stay healthy, he still has plenty of pop left in his bat.

Moving Mike Trout into the number three spot would give him the opportunity to drive in more runs than he has at any other point during his career. Trout drove in 111 runs last season, and 130 RBI’s would not be out of the question in 2015. Trout has shown he has enough power to handle the change after averaging 31 homers per year over the course of his first three full seasons. Trout’s batting average may take a bit of a hit, and he would likely be sacrificing his stolen base numbers, but the trade off would undoubtedly be worth it. Batting Trouty in the three hole would allow him to truly establish himself as the face of Major League Baseball.

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Personally, I have loved watching Trout give opposing pitchers and managers headaches with his speed out of the leadoff spot. However, with offence coming at a premium these days, a power bat like Trout needs to be in the heart of the order. Trouty is destined to reside in the number three spot for years to come in Anaheim, and I envision 2015 being the year he transitions into that role. Slotting Mike Trout in as the Angels number three hitter would make everyone on the ball club better. I believe 2015 will be Trout’s best season yet, and he may even lead the Halos to their first World Championship in 13 years.

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