Mike Trout Continues To Do Mike Trout Things

Mike Trout is one of the greatest baseball players of this generation already, but he’s just getting started.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Trout has already been an amazing player throughout his career. His career slash line is .308/.408/.566, which is already great alone. Our own Jeremy Frank tweeted about Trout’s astronomically high WAR since joining the league in 2011:

Another statistic to keep in mind is that his career WAR (51.7) is higher than Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (25.5) and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper’s (23.8) combined.

This season, he has gone above beyond.

His slash line in the 2017 season is .350/.466/.757. He also has hit 14 home runs and batted in 34 runs. To put things in perspective, here are Trout’s batting totals and their ranking in the MLB:

Batting Average (.350): 6th, 2nd in AL
On-Base Percentage (.466): 1st
Slugging Percentage (.757): 1st
Home Runs (14): 2nd
RBI (34): 7th
Runs (31): 9th in MLB, 1st in AL
OPS (1.223): 1st
wOBA (.487): 2nd
wRC+ (224): 1st
WAR (3.2): 1st

Many have asked, how did Trout get to this point in his career? I’d say that like fine wine, Trout has improved with age and experience. Remember in 2011 when he slashed .220/.281/.390 and only walked nine times in 40 games?

In 41 more plate appearances and the same number of games this season, Trout has walked 20 extra times. He’s seeing the ball better, his swing is more compact and he’s using his legs more.

Check out this video from 2011:

There are few things that stand out with his rookie tape. His stance is more closed off, which wouldn’t allow him to barrel as many inside pitches. He didn’t use much of his lower body in this swing, causing him to fly out. His arms and hands look good in this particular motion.

It is a far cry from where he is this season.

2017:

In this video, you can see Trout has opened up his stance slightly, allowing him to turn on inside pitches. He has also added a higher leg kick to his repertoire. His hips rotate immediately when the pitch comes close and his explosiveness has increased.

Trout has lessened his strikeout rate every year since his 2014 season, where it was at its highest (26.1 percent). In 2015, it dropped to 23.2. In 2016, it was 20.1. This season, his strikeout rate (19.3) is at the lowest it has been since 2013, where he held a 19.0 rate.

His walk rate has also improved greatly in comparison to his first four seasons. From 2011–16, Trout’s combined walk rate was 13.7. By comparison, in 2017 he has walked 16.5 of the time.

Another thing Trout has done this season is lay off of pitches outside of the zone. Despite his numbers not being great outside of the strike zone, it is because he doesn’t chase bad pitches.

In past seasons, Trout chased more pitches outside of the zone:

This season, he has laid off of those pitches and has consistently made contact on pitches that have been within the zone:

This should be scary for opposing pitchers. He’s even gotten so good that New York Mets manager Terry Collins considered walking Trout with the bases loaded. Although he could cool down, it’s time to acknowledge him for what he is: The undisputed best player in baseball.