Mike Trout is unsurprisingly off to a good start to the 2019 season. What’s more surprising, however, is just how ridiculously good he’s been so far.
After establishing career-best marks in on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.628) and wRC+ (191) in 2018, Trout is blowing those numbers out of the water right now. Sure, it’s a small sample of nine games but Trout is hitting an absurd .385/.553/.923 with a 300 wRC+. More impressively, Trout’s past three games versus the Texas Rangers have been nothing short of incredible.
Trout has homered in each of the three games, including a multi-home run game on Friday night and his fifth career grand slam on Saturday afternoon, a ball that traveled 458 feet into the left field bleachers.
During that three game stretch, Trout has been to the plate 13 times. He has reached base nine times in that span, slamming four home runs, walking three times and getting hit by a pitch. Trout is basically a one-man wrecking crew right now that is carrying a team that is near the bottom of the leaderboards in every meaningful category.
You’ll be absolutely shocked to know (evidenced by this home run barrage) that Trout is crushing baseballs so far this year. Trout’s 91.2 mph average exit velocity last year was plenty good but that number has jumped to 94.5 mph this year. This bodes well because, according to a recent piece by The Athletic’s Eno Sarris, exit velocity tends to stabilize quickly.
On top of the prodigious exit velocity, Trout is barreling up baseballs at a 21.1 percent rate, the third highest figure in baseball. As you can see by this graphic from Baseball Savant, Trout is pretty much doing everything extremely well at the plate.
On top of producing quality of contact at an elite rate, Trout has all but decided to stop swinging at bad pitches. His swinging-strike has dropped yet again, showing an ongoing trend of improving plate discipline. In fact, Trout has improved his swinging-strike rate six years in a row.
Trout’s entire batted ball profile has improved yet again. Through nine games, Trout has a career-high mark in contact percentage (90.7 percent) while boasting a career-low 36.2 swing percentage. He is swinging at more pitches in the zone (61 percent) while swinging at practically nothing out of the zone (9.7 percent).
Just like exit velocity, plate discipline numbers tend to stabilize fairly quickly so Trout may be close to establishing a new baseline. If Trout stays in the same ballpark with both quality of contact and plate discipline, he’ll become borderline impossible to pitch to.
Maybe this isn’t all that surprising given that Trout has walked eight times and only struck out three times in his first 38 plate appearances. Trout’s power surge, his near-perfect eye at the plate and an Angels lineup that lacks serious depth with no Justin Upton or Shohei Ohtani (for the time being) means that Trout’s on-base percentage could legitimately hover near .500 this year. In a day and age where the average OBP hovers in the low 300’s (average OBP was .318 in 2018), this is nothing short of incredible.
Just mere weeks after signing the richest contract in North American sports history, Mike Trout is showing he is worth every penny so far. Recent trends show that Trout may be in for his biggest year yet so buckle up for what could be a historic season.