Trout’s Hot Start, Fact or Fluke

The Angels have now played 11 games and the most obvious thing happening on the field is Mike Trout’s incredibly hot start. He’s currently hitting .400 with 3 home runs and an .OPS of 1.250. The season is a little too young to expect things to continue at this pace but a number of analyst have begun to look into the numbers and see some things that suggest that Trout has made adjustments to compensate for his high strikeout rate in 2014.

First ESPN’s Buster Posey makes notes of Mike’s lower pitch-per-plate-appearance rate. Watch the video below:

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register notes that Trout’s BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play) is much higher than the league average which means he’s getting lucky. But perhaps that’s not the entire story.

“But this …

Trout’s line drive percentage is 41 percent. The league average is 25 percent. So he’s definitely squaring up more balls, which ought to lead to more hits.”

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs offers the most comprehensive look at Trout’s early season numbers including analysis of his swing and the pitch location of his hits. He notes how pitcher are striving more than ever before to pitcher Mike high and inside as illustrated by this at bat.

Sullivan concludes:

“Trout has hit high, inside pitches hard, but until he does it more, and until he’s truly rewarded for it, this is probably what life is going to be like. Pitchers will keep attacking up there. Trout will look for those pitches more, so he’ll be more prepared for them. In theory, that will leave Trout slightly more vulnerable against other pitches, and then you’re closer to an optimal balance. The question concerns where that balance will be.

Pitchers are still searching. They’re still pushing it. And in the very early going, they’ve pushed their patterns ever more extreme.”

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