Better bats in the line up bode well for Mike Trout

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 27: Mike Trout
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 27: Mike Trout /

If the LA Angels want Mike Trout to perform as well as he can, they need to put other guys in the lineup who can hit.  With an average lineup, opposing teams can pitch around Mike Trout risk free.

Recent past for the LA Angels

For the past three years the LA Angels as a team have under performed compared to the rest of the league.  While the league averages were .248, .269, and .251 from 2015-2017 respectively.  The LA Angels’ averages were .246, .260, and .243.

If the best hitter in baseball is in a lineup filled with average to below average talent, why even pitch to him? Hopefully this winter’s moves will prove to be successful in terms of getting Trout more hittable pitches next season.

ONE of the many reasons the Astros were so successful last season was because everyone on their team could hit.  They HAD to throw strikes to the best hitters in the game.  There was no such thing as an easy out.

Winter trades analysis – Depth?

The additions of Zack Cozart (.297 BA last season), Ian Kinsler (.273 career BA), and Ohtani bode well for the Angels’ offense as a whole.  In fact, I predict the LA Angels’ offense to be the best it’s been since Mike Trout has been on the team.  The biggest question for me is depth in the outfield.

If Upton, Calhoun or Trout get hurt, Jefry Marte is the only other legitimate outfielder, posting a .173 BA last season.

Besides the outfield I see no other problems in terms of offensive depth.  There can be a lot of moving parts between second, third and shortstop.

As for first base, there is too much depth.  We have Pujols, Cron, Valbuena and Marte.  Maybe they could use one of those players to get another, better, outfielder.

Next: How the LA Angels could use their extra first basemen to increase pitching depth

What is “pitching around the hitter”?

As I stated earlier, when a great hitter is in a lineup full of average players, it’s easy for a pitcher to settle for a walk.  The average baseball fan might not notice these tendencies because they’re not obvious.

Pitching around a hitter doesn’t mean the pitcher is going to intentionally walk the batter or throw him four straight pitches that aren’t close.  What it means is the pitcher treats the at bat differently.  Instead of getting ahead and going from there, he is going to throw an extremely difficult pitch to hit every single time, no matter what the count.

He could be down two balls, no strikes, but he’s not going to paint a fastball middle away just to get back into the at bat.  Instead, he’ll continue to throw difficult pitches to hit.  Even though it’s more likely he’ll walk the batter, in his mind, a walk is better than what that hitter is capable of doing.

What the LA Angels’ offseason trades mean for Mike Trout

Now, the Angels’ lineup and (more importantly) the hitters directly behind Mike Trout are better.  So pitchers will be more likely to focus on getting Trout out instead of just getting past him.

Since they will be more focused on him, he’ll get more pitches to hit.  For the best hitter in baseball, more pitches to hit means MORE HITS.

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Also, Ian Kinsler should prove to be a better lead off hitter than Kole Calhoun was.  When there is a speedy runner at first, the likelihood of getting fastballs goes up.  Fastballs get from pitcher to catcher faster which reduces stolen bases.

For Kinsler to have a successful season leading off he should have at least 15 stolen bases and have an OBP of .350 or higher.  The threat of him being on will give the hitters after him a better chance at the plate.

Hitters as good as Mike Trout hardly get a fighting chance when in a lineup full of average hitters.  Now that the Angels have made some serious improvements to the lineup Mike Trout will finally start seeing some good pitches to hit.