LA Angels Player Improvement Series: Mike Trout
As the new season is approaching and Spring Training is only a month away, every LA Angels player should be looking to improve upon seasons past. There isn’t a lot the best player of this generation can improve on, but lets take a shot at seeing what were his biggest weaknesses.
Before I start breaking it down, I just want to let it be known that I am no one that should be telling LA Angels superstar Mike Trout how to play. He is one of the best players of the last decade and he keeps putting up outrageous numbers. But if this mini series is going to continue, I figured that I might as well start with the toughest challenge in finding out what Mike Trout should work on if he wants to get better.
After doing some heavy research into his stats, one of the things that keeps coming back up and has been mentioned by reporters in the past is that Trout hasn’t really put pressure on the base paths in various seasons, including 2019. Last season, he only stole 11 bases and got caught stealing twice, however, he has shown that he is perfectly capable of turning on the jets and stealing one if the needs to in the past with 49 stolen bases in 2012, 33 in 2013, and 30 in 2016.
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While I do encourage that Trout be more aggressive on trying to steal more bases, I also believe that stealing a base isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if the pitcher and catcher know your ability to run. Trout will have to do research of his own by knowing when the best chance is to steal and who is behind the plate if he wants to increase the number of steals which I think he is perfectly capable of doing.
Another thing that I found interesting when really digging into his numbers is a stat that may be overlooked by many but that is his sOPS+ by count per ball/strike. Now OPS+ takes a players on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, sOPS+ is for split relative to League’s Split OPS and is not park adjusted, however, it does help us look at what Trout is doing pitch by pitch in the count.
Now a score of 100 by a player would be considered average in this stat and Trout finished with a 193 on the first pitch, 162 on 1-0 count, 157 on 2-0 count, and didn’t have a score for 3-0 count because his slugging percentage was zero. A couple more numbers to factor in before we start breaking down what this means is overall when he is ahead of the count he’s hitting 186 and when the pitcher is ahead he is hitting 76 which is well below average.
Now what does this all mean? Well overall it means that Trout loves hitting when he’s ahead of the count and that he’s very selective when he tries to hit on the first pitch of his at-bat. If there is one thing that Trout needs to improve on, it’s at-bats where he’s behind in the count which is already difficult for any batter.
How he is going to improve when he is behind the count is something that he needs to figure out and I can’t really figure out a solution for this as it’s nearly impossible to guess what the pitcher is going to throw next. When he is 0-2 in the count he’s hitting 68, so even this is proof that Trout doesn’t perform too well when he’s in the hole 0-2 and he’s battling to keep stay alive.
Even so, with this data being shared, Mike Trout is still the best in the game and these stats are really nitpicking Trouts problems when he’s at the plate. I don’t see this being a major issue that fans and people involved in baseball are going to be looking at too much given all the other stats and categories Trout is leading in. But, this does show that even some of the games best can improve and no one is perfect, not even Mike Trout.