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« The Miguel/Mariano Epic At Bat of August 9, 2013 | Main | Yasiel Puig's Beautiful, Reckless Plate Approach »

Mike Trout Tightens His Strike Zone, Gets Even Better

(All stats through Friday's games)

In 2012, Mike Trout enjoyed what many consider the greatest age 20 season ever for a hitter, posting a 169 OPS+ that bested the likes of Ty Cobb (167 OPS+ in 1907), Mel Ott (165 OPS+ in 1929), Al Kaline (162 OPS+ in 1955) and Mickey Mantle (162 OPS+ in 1952). What has the Millville Meteor done for an encore?

He has gotten even better...naturally

Still hitting for average and power, Trout has boosted his on-base percentage (from .399 to .425) and sports a 181 OPS+, trailing only AL MVP nemesis Miguel Cabrera (200 OPS+) among qualified hitters this season. He's once again smoking the competition among hitters in his age bracket, beating luminaries including Jimmie Foxx (173 OPS+ during his age-21 season in 1929), Eddie Mathews (171 OPS+ in 1953) Rogers Hornsby (169 OPS+ in 1917) and Cobb (169 OPS+ in 1908).

Trout has improved his already historic hitting this season by tightening his strike zone and making more contact, leading to more free passes and fewer punch outs (his walk-to-strikeout ratio has improved from 0.48 as a rookie to 0.78 in 2013).

Here's a closer look at Trout's more refined approach at the plate.

  • Trout already had a pretty good eye at the plate, chasing just 24.9% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone as a rookie. His plate approach is even more refined in 2013, with his chase rate falling to 22.1%. For comparison's sake, the big league average is around 27%.
  • He's doing a particularly good job of laying off fastballs out of the zone. Trout's fastball chase rate (16.8%) is ninth-lowest among MLB hitters and well below his 2012 clip (21.6%). Showing more restraint against fastballs thrown off the plate has helped Trout lift his batting average against fastballs from .306 to .345 this season. 
  • Trout isn't just chasing fewer pitches out of the zone -- he's also swinging at more strikes. His swing rate against pitches thrown over the plate has increased from 54.2% in 2012 to 55.8% in 2013.
  • Trout has also cut his miss rate from 20.4% in 2012 to 18.8% in 2013, which has helped him punch out less often (21.8% in '12, 16.9% in '13). Once again, Trout has made the most progress against the heat: his miss rate versus fastballs has declined from 19.9% to 13.4% (the MLB average fastball miss rate is about 16%). 

He's connecting far more often on fastballs thrown in the upper third of the strike zone

    Trout's fastball contact rate by pitch location, 2012


    Trout's fastball contact rate by pitch location, 2013



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