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Pitchers Approaching Harper, Trout Far Differently

The careers of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will forever be linked. The game's top two prospects entering the season spur endless debate -- will Harper's pure power or Trout's five-tool game ultimately prove more valuable? So far in 2012, both are raking. Harper has a 141 OPS+ 125 plate appearances, and Trout has a 148 OPS+ in 129 plate appearances. While the 19-year-old Harper and 20-year-old Trout are each having historically great seasons for players not yet legally able to buy a brew, the way pitchers are approaching them couldn't be any more different.

With Harper having already popped four home runs and batting in the meat of the Nationals' order, pitchers are reluctant to throw him strikes. Trout, sitting atop the Angels' lineup, has seen many more strikes:

Player Zone Pct.
Harper 43.3
Trout 51
MLB Avg. 48


As you might expect from those above numbers, Harper is getting plenty of off-speed stuff. In fact, he has seen to lowest percentage of fastballs (two-seam and four-seam) among all major league hitters with at least 100 plate appearances:

Player Pct. Fastballs Seen
Bryce Harper 31.8%
Bryan LaHair 33.0%
Brandon Belt 33.9%
Ike Davis 35.4%
Ian Stewart 35.7%
Geovany Soto 36.1%
Cameron Maybin 37.3%
Carlos Ruiz 37.7%
Alfonso Soriano 38.2%
Pedro Alvarez 38.3%


Trout, meanwhile, has seen more fastballs than any hitter in the game with at least 100 plate appearances:

Player Pct. Fastballs Seen
Mike Trout 62.8%
Alberto Callaspo 62.3%
Maicer Izturis 61.2%
Jemile Weeks 58.9%
Chone Figgins 58.9%
Humberto Quintero 56.9%
Juan Pierre 56.1%
Andy Dirks 55.9%
Vernon Wells 55.8%
Emilio Bonifacio 55.6%


So far, giving Harper off-speed stuff off the plate and Trout an abundance of in-zone fastballs hasn't worked for pitchers. Luckily (or should I say unfortunately?), opponents have a good 15-20 years to figure out how to return these prodigies to the dugout.

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