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Thursday Halolinks: What happened to Mike Trout?

Trout has improved his game since Albert Pujols' injury. Is it something he did, or are pitchers pitching around him? Oh, and don't be a baby.

Tom Szczerbowski

How awesome is Mike Trout?  Since July 27th, the first day the Angels would be without Albert Pujols, Trout has hit .376/.531/.586.  Yes, that On Base Percentage is .531!  In other words, Trout has gotten on base in more than half of his at-bats since the Angels lost Albert Pujols.  Yet, that can be a little disturbing for the Halos.  The common thought about batting order creation and one batter "protecting" the hitter in front of him is often thought of as none existent.  It doesn't matter where a batter hits, nor who is hitting behind him when it comes to how well the player will hit.  However, since Pujols has been out, and no longer hitting behind Trout, Trout's walk rate has more than doubled.

Before Pujols Injury 462 49 10.6%
After Pujols Injury 177 42 23.7%

(data through 9/10/13)

Either Trout has changed his approach since moving to the three spot in the order, or opposing pitchers are pitching around him.  And if they are pitching around him, should the Angels do something about it?  Can they?  Regardless, he has clearly stepped it up in almost every category, going from a slash-line of .324/.400/.564 to .376/.531/.586.  One small warning, Trout's BABIP since July 27th is a nearly unsustainable .484 after putting up a .365 prior to that date.  (all data supplied by B-REF)

I watched Wednesday night's game on using the Toronto feed (this time on purpose).  I had mentioned in yesterday's Halolinks that they keep the pitch location graphic on the screen during the entire at-bat allowing fans to follow every pitch during the at-bat.  During Mike Trout's first at-bat this happened:


According to the pitch/fx data shown on the screen, the pitch catches the inside corner for strike three.  Dickey knew it, Thole knew it, everyone knew it -- except Trout.  No big deal, Dickey threw a great pitch.  However, what bothers me is Trout's reaction.  Although the call is correct, Trout disagrees, and lingers in the batter's box for a few moments and then says something like, "You missed it" to the umpire.  First, no kid, he didn't miss it.  He got it right, you're out.  Second, don't be a baby.  You're awesome, and will probably be one of baseball's greatest players, but you're going to strikeout sometimes.  YOU missed it, handle it like a pro.

UPDATE: As noted by "The astonishing return of Paul Lynde", Trout is probably saying, "Nice pitch" in the above GIF.  If that's the case (and I believe it is), Trout is cool.  Like Fonzie cool.  I apologize for doubting him.

How about some Halolinks:

  • Remember last season when Trout got jobbed out of the A.L. MVP?  Yeah, it's probably going to happen again: Visualizing the AL MVP Race - Beyond the Box Score.  "I think this backs up what the narrative has been. Donaldson, for example, has made a late push to close the gap, while Trout has undoubtedly been the second half MVP, really breaking away from the pack since mid-July. (After Pujols went on the DL).
    (click graph to enlarge)
  • Ken Rosenthal thinks Trout might have a chance this year: Postseason awards races going down to the wire - MLB News - FOX Sports.  "I was a Trout guy last year, but generally I prefer my MVP to contribute to a winning effort. Yes, the criteria states that the winner “need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” But playing for a contender involves a different kind of pressure. And the Angels were cooked by June...Cabrera is the favorite because of his remarkable offensive performance and the Tigers’ first-place standing. But I’m finding it more and more difficult to mount a case against Trout."
  • It's kind of interesting how today's Halolinks are somewhat tied together.  A lot of Trout stuff, and some looking at umpire calls: On broadcasters and borderline calls - Baseball Nation.  "Was that a strike? Quite possibly. This two-dimensional representation can mislead us, but you can certainly understand why the pitcher and the catcher and the guys in the booth thought it was a strike. You can also understand why the umpire didn't call the strike. When a pitch is crossing the plate at 90 miles per hour, as this one was, it's almost impossible for the umpire to tell for sure if one sliver of the baseball clipped one edge of the strike zone. The umpires almost have to guess, and they're doing well to get those right more than half the time."  Writing for this site has its own way of within the comments of this post, someone used a photo of a robot umpire.  I created that photo in 2009, but every-once-in-a-while it shows up somewhere, and I think that's pretty cool.  Anyway, here's another umpire story.  Although the call benefitted the A's, I'm glad they got it right: A’s benefit from reversed call, push division lead to three games after blowing out Twins - Yahoo Sports.  "One a 1-1 pitch, Lowrie ripped a ball down the right field line that first base umpire Bill Miller had to muster all of his remaining athleticism to avoid. Unfortunately, in the process, he also lost sight of the ball, which was his first problem. His second problem was he immediately had to make a call on a play he didn't see. He guessed foul, and the A's, though understanding of his predicament, weren't going to let it go, either."
  • Okay, so where is baseball's Chip Kelly? - Baseball Nation.  "In baseball, the front office gets a great deal of the credit when the team wins and the blame when it loses. In football, the front office says to the coach, "We'll give you the players. Now go win." In baseball, the front office says to the manager, "We'll give you the players. Don't lose."
  • I know, it's supposed to be HALOlinks.  Here's the Angel stuff: Eppard working to simplify Hamilton's approach -  "We started two and a half, three months ago where it started to come on. But it's been at a snail's pace. That's the thing that's frustrating. But at the same time, you do know you're doing the right thing because there is progress being made. It just hasn't jumped as quickly as I was hoping it would."
  • MLBTraderumors is doing a poll: Poll: The Angels' Best Trade Chip -  "Much has been made of the Angels' need for young pitching this offseason, and there's been plenty of speculation that they'll have to acquire it via trade. Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos are the names that come up most frequently when discussing the Halos' quest to acquire arms. While the team is reportedly more open to trading Kendrick than the others, they did discuss Aybar with the Cardinals this summer, and the Pirates attempted to land Trumbo, suggesting those names could surface in negotiations this winter."
  • My guy Kole does it again: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays - September 11, 2013 -  "During Wednesday night's 5-4 win over the Blue Jays, the Angels' redheaded spark plug drove in a couple of runs, including the game-winning one, via two sacrifice flies. Calhoun has now driven in a run in 14 of his last 15 starts -- the first player in Angels history to do so -- and leads all Major League rookies with 25 RBIs since being called up on July 28."
  • I was going to write about the impression I had regarding Wilson's game.  The Toronto announcing crew commented a couple of times about how Wilson would pitch himself into a jam, but would somehow get himself out of it.  I was going to write that it seemed he pitched lousy and was lucky to get the win, but then realized, that's kind of how he's been all year.  Angels stay strong against Blue Jays in 5-4 victory -  "Of all the things we've talked about this year that haven't worked out, C.J. is on the other side of that ledger," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's having just a terrific season, pitching deep into games. He's going to be 200-plus innings again. Every stat you look at is terrific for him." The left-hander, who has not lost since July 5 against Boston, walked four and struck out six. He is 12-1 with a 3.02 earned-run average in 17 starts since June 14."  Imagine how good his stat line would look if he didn't nibble.
  • Okay, I'll take it back...the Angels aren't "slumpbusters" least not in Canada: Angels-Blue Jays Preview - Yahoo Sports.  "The Toronto Blue Jays were experiencing one of their most successful stretches of the season before a visit from a trio of hot Los Angeles Angels hitters. Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun and Mark Trumbo will try to lead the Angels to their first series sweep of the Blue Jays in three years Thursday night."  Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays - September 12, 2013 -  "Seeking the sweep, the Angels will send Garrett Richards, who has a 2.96 ERA in nine starts since replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation, to the mound. Richards struggled with control in three consecutive outings, but he is coming off a start against the Rangers in which he gave up just two runs (one earned) in seven innings and retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced."
  • This is pretty neat: Wladimir Balentien hits 55th homer, ties single-season record in Japan -
    Former Mariners prospect Wladimir Balentien hit his 55th home run of the season for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Wednesday, tying Japan's single-season homer record. Sadaharu Oh (1964), Tuffy Rhodes (2001) and Alex Cabrera in (2002) also hold the record."  Balentine still has 21 games left in the season.
  • This is interesting.  I hadn't realized the luxury tax system worked like this: The Yankees Will Pay $29 Million In Luxury Tax This Year - Deadspin.  "And while the Yankees will have to pay $29.1 million in luxury tax on their $236.2 million payroll, the Dodgers, at $234.5 million, owe "just" $9.9 million. The reason is the "repeat offender" provision in the CBA (see page 99)—for going over the threshold so many years in a row, the Yankees are hit with a 50 percent bill on their excess payroll. The Dodgers, because they are first-time violators, are in the 17.5 percent tax bracket. No wonder the Yankees are so desperate to shed payroll this offseason. If they get under the threshold for just a single season, they'll revert back to the lowest tax bracket."