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Wednesday Halolinks: Angels win in Trout homecoming

There's nothing wrong with appreciating a great player, especially when he's Mike Trout.

Tom Szczerbowski

I wonder if there were many Phillies' fans complaining about how their favorite team welcomed an opposing team's player the way Angels' fans whined about the reception the Halos gave Derek Jeter?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Jeter fluffer, but I do appreciate the game to the extent that I value what a player like Jeter brings to the ballpark, and I think that should be recognized when that player has reached the end of a great career.  It didn't seem like the Philadelphia club went to any great lengths in promoting Mike Trout's first game in their town, as his fans almost out-numbered the Phillie phaithful, but they definitely benefited with the increased ticket sales.  Sure, the Jeter-fest in Anaheim is a completely different situation than the return of a hometown hero in Philadelphia, but sometimes being a baseball fan means looking at the bigger picture than just categorizing the event as an "us vs. them" incident.

Anyway, it was nice to see fans from another city giving support to an Angels' player.  Now, onward with today's Halolinks:

  • How cool was that?  All pre-season I complained about the Angels' lack of starting pitching depth, and the first time hey need a guy from within the organization, he goes out and pitches his ass off.  I guess those baseball minds kinda know what they're doing: Angels' Shoemaker tops Phils for first win - Yahoo Sports.  "Shoemaker, recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City earlier in the day, was making his first major league start of the season and the second of his career. It was also his fifth appearance spanning two seasons. He went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one. ... Shoemaker (1-1) retired the first nine hitters he faced. He threw 57 pitches, 36 for strikes."
  • Sometimes just being yourself isn't enough: 'Lucho' steals some of Trout's spotlight in Angels win - The Orange County Register.  "“Lucho is a terrific defensive third baseman,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “That play doesn’t really surprise you. On the offensive side, he’s still growing into what he needs to do at the major league level.Jimenez hit .260 in two stints in the majors last season, with a shoulder injury ending his season just when he had a chance to get more regular playing time. He said he is trying not to put as much pressure on himself now, thanks to advice from Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar and Raul Ibanez. “But I’ve been talking with the guys about coming with the same mentality that you come in the minor leagues (with),” said Jimenez, who was hitting .270 at Triple-A."  So let me get this straight, the guys was hitting .270 at Triple A and that's okay, but hitting .260 in the majors isn't?  Did the club think he was going to hit better once he reached the big club?  Anyway, Jimenez and Shoemaker's performances were pretty awesome: Los Angeles Angels at Philadelphia Phillies - May 13, 2014 -  "The afternoon belonged to Mike Trout, the South New Jersey native who had more than 8,000 people from in and around his hometown on hand to cheer him. But the night belonged to Matt Shoemaker, who held the Phillies to two runs in five innings, and Luis Jimenez, who hit a crucial two-run double and made an equally important double play in a game-changing sixth inning."
  • "When I walk down the street, I want people to say 'There goes Mike Trout, the best there ever was in the game'." Angels' Mike Trout has debut in Philadelphia in front of Millville crowd -  "It was a special moment for me -- a real special moment," Trout said after the Angels had locked down a 4-3 win. "It was unbelievable. I wanted to take it in a little longer and thank the fans. It means a lot to me, my family. I wanted to thank them. It gave me chills to have an opposing team support me like that. It was an awesome feeling."  And: Warm reception in Philadelphia gives Trout chills - The Orange County Register.  “It gave me chills to have an opposing team support me like that,” said Trout, who went 1 for 5. “It was an awesome feeling.” Busloads of fans – as many as 8,000, by some estimates – made the 45-mile trip to see the 22-year-old who not long ago was Mikey, tearing up Little League fields and high school diamonds. They contributed to a paid attendance of 41,959, about 12,000 more than the Phillies had been averaging this year.
  • Today's game has an early get-away 10am start: Los Angeles Angels at Philadelphia Phillies - May 14, 2014 - Preview.  "Burnett faces Angels right-hander Garrett Richards, who has been the Angels' best starter this season and seems to be rounding into one of the best young pitchers in the American League. He is 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA, has struck out 46 batters in 45 innings, has an AL-low 6.0 hits per nine innings, has upped his strikeout rate to 9.2 (6.3 last year) and has five quality starts in his first seven outings."
  • Yeah, he's an MVP.  Just soak up the juices of his glory: Austin Jackson's eyes can't believe Miguel Cabrera - Yahoo Sports.  "Keep your eyes on the eyes of Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers. He's watching slugger Miguel Cabrera, who put the Tigers ahead with a three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles. Mercy sakes. It's Cabrera's world — Jackson is just visiting, and it's a lot to absorb."
  • Is there really something to be concerned about?  Or is Trout's recent performance just something that happens during every player's career? Trout's strikeouts a cause for concern - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN.  "Trout is swinging and missing far more often against pitches in the strike zone. About 50 percent of Trout's strikeouts last season came on a pitch in the strike zone. This season, however, 74.5 percent of his strikeouts have come on a pitch in the strike zone."
  • I'm no sabermetric genius, but even I know you're doing it wrong: Sabermetrics: Contact could help Trout measurably - The Orange County Register.  "Ignoring walks, imagine a typical major-league hitter with, say, 500 at-bats and 15 homers in a full season. If that hitter struck out 100 times, a little better than the major-league average rate, his expected batting average would be .261. But if he struck out only 50 times, his expected batting average would rise to .291. If he struck out 150 times, it’d be .231."  The number of times a batter strikes out is fair less important than the batted ball type of the at-bat.  A player who strikes out 150 times, but hits line drives is going to have a much higher batting average than a player who strikes out 50 times, yet hits a large amount of groundballs and pop-ups. Additionally, I'd obviously rather see a player strikeout than hit a groundball with a runner on first base.  Besides, Trout isn't the only player who is striking out: Strikeouts are up, so why hasn't the single game record fallen? - Beyond the Box Score.  "Strikeouts are certainly on the rise, so teams are striking out more in each game, but a lot of those strikeouts are happening later in games. There's been a huge spike in 10 strikeout games by starters in this decade, but the spikes for 11, 12, 13, etc. are much smaller because the starters are getting pulled in favor of relievers who come in and keep the strikeout train moving."
  • Roles or matchups, which is the preferred method of running a bullpen? Angels Afterthoughts: Sabermetric Scioscia? - Orange County Register.  "For years, there’s been a notion among those who analyze the numbers that it’s not effective to always save your best relief pitcher for the ninth inning, just because that’s when you get credit for a save. Instead, you should use your best reliever in the most important moment, regardless of the inning. The Angels have now used a combination of Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri to finish off three consecutive late-inning victories, and in each of them Smith pitched to the middle-of-the-order hitters. It just so happened that they came up in the eighth twice, on Friday night and tonight. In both games, Frieri worked the ninth and got the save. “We’re trying to match up,” Scioscia said. “You never know where the lineup is going to find you. As the seventh inning was over, we felt real good with Joe and his sinker against those bigger bats and Ernie finishing the game.”
    I was going to use the head of Scioscia to block the view, but was too lazy.  Instead you get Clint.
  • By the way, here are recaps of games featuring the rest of the A.L. West.  After yesterday's action, the A's have a four-game lead on the Angels, followed by Seattle (4.5), Texas (5.0), and Houston (12.0): MLB Recap - Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics - May 13, 2014 -  "Making his second start of the season after replacing Dan Straily as Oakland's fourth starter, Pomeranz and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as the Athletics beat the Chicago White Sox 11-0 on Tuesday night for their sixth consecutive victory."
    Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros - Recap - May 13, 2014 - ESPN.  "Keuchel (4-2) pitched a seven-hitter for his first major league shutout, leading the Houston Astros over the Texas Rangers 8-0.
    MLB Recap - Tampa Bay Rays at Seattle Mariners - May 13, 2014 -  "David DeJesus hit a home run and Matt Joyce hit a go-ahead RBI single as the Rays rallied in the ninth inning against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney to beat the Mariners 2-1 on Tuesday night."