Mike Trout

PSA: Mike Trout is Still the Best, and Only Getting Better

By Vincent Page
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 02: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels makes a number one sign during batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 2, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 02: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels makes a number one sign during batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium on May 2, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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This is just another reminder that Mike Trout is still the best baseball player, and he is only getting better in every facet of the game.

Over the offseason, Mike Trout put a huge effort into improving his defense. While he has always been stellar, a Gold Glove is something that has evaded Trout throughout his career. This season, Trout is looking to add that to his trophy case, and could very well add much more.

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Right now, Trout has to be the leader for the Gold Glove Award for American League outfielders. His 0.6 defensive WAR is second amongst all center fielders in the MLB. So far this season, only two balls have dropped within Mike Trout’s range. Last year, more than 20 did. And while it is early, Trout has already played more than 25% of the innings played last year.

“I am getting balls that I don’t think I could have gotten to before,” Trout said. “I think it’s my first step and positioning.” (per @JeffFletcherOC)

While his defensive game is improving, his offense has been taken to an entirely new level. While his .288 batting average is not elite, his .423 on-base percentage is. His patience and discipline at the plate has made him downright terrifying, receiving special treatment from opposition.

Trout has begun getting the “Bonds” treatment, where teams would rather intentionally walk him rather than face the game’s best hitter. Mike Trout’s 26.1 strikeout rate in 2014 was kryptonite, and he has fixed it since. His percentage is down to 20%, which is slightly higher than the past couple seasons.

Trout is also swinging at the lowest amount of pitches out of the strike zone during his career. On top of that, he is making contact on nearly 90% of his swings. Those two stats combined are the sole reason behind Mike Trout morphing into a slugger who strikes out to an all-around threat with Joey Votto-type discipline.

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Trout’s power and speed combination has also been legendary. His 11 home runs and five stolen bases put him in rare company. If he can add a few more stolen bases, he can reach the 40/40 club, joining only Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Alfonso Soriano. He is also on pace for a 14.3 WAR season, the highest by a position player since Babe Ruth (14.1) in 1923.

Trout’s success is completely due to his self-improvement. After being critiqued for his lackadaisical defense and poor discipline at the plate, he has made both of them highlights of his game. And even with all that, he is hitting balls so far, he is also breaking StatCast on the way to (possibly, inevitably) his third AL MVP Award.

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