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Mike Trout July update: more barrels, fewer singles

And a higher launch angle.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at Mike Trout’s numbers is always a good way to waste some time. However, with the Monday off-day, I figured that since I didn’t have to watch a baseball game, I could peruse Baseball Reference and the ilk. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Mike Trout is hitting fewer singles than ever.

This isn’t to say that Trout doesn’t stand on first base anymore, because he does. He’s still leading the majors in walks (he’s actually only done this in one other season, 2016), and he has been hit by a pitch the most in his career. Yet he’s hit singles at the lowest rate in his career.

Mike Trout Singles

Year Total Singles Total AB Single %
Year Total Singles Total AB Single %
2012 117 559 20.93%
2013 115 589 19.52%
2014 89 602 14.78%
2015 93 575 16.17%
2016 107 549 19.49%
2017 62 402 15.42%
2018 80 471 16.99%
2019* 44 327 13.46%

**stats good through 7/22/2019, courtesy of BBRef

I chose to use Singles/AB rather than Singles/PA as the percentage because I’m curious as to what Trout does when he puts the ball in play. As he’s walked more in recent years, I’m sure the difference for Singles/PA would be more pronounced across the seasons.

It’s hard to imagine what passes for a Trout single nowadays. I can really only think of three types: he gets jammed and flares a pop into right field, he misses a pitch and hits a dribbler to the left side that he beats out, or he laces a pitch into the outfield that somehow manages to both (a) drop in front of an outfielder and (b) be hit towards said outfielder so Trout doesn’t make it to second. It makes sense. Trout is squaring the ball up better than before, so that reduces the odds of the first two possibilities, and that also affects the third, because lacing the ball hard also leads to more XBH.

Sidenote: I wonder if the juiced ball is negatively affecting Trout’s singles. When he gets a good pitch to hit but doesn’t have the right launch angle, before those balls would drop in front of fielders, but possibly with the ball carrying farther than usual, they fly out to outfielders.

Sidenote 2: Perhaps if this is true, outfielders should be playing deeper than before, because average distance of a fly ball is higher?

Mike Trout is barreling up the ball better than ever.

What I alluded to in the previous section is also true. Trout is simply squaring up the ball and driving it.

His percentage of barrels is up to nearly 20%. MLB defines a Barrel as “batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.”

It seems that Mike Trout’s exit velocity is about the same as it was in 2018 and similar to his career’s, so he’s not hitting it any harder. He’s just hitting it so much better. According to the graphic provided by MLB, a ball hit 100 mph is not a barrel unless it is hit between 24 and 33 degrees. Because Trout is increasing his launch angle, those batted balls with the same exit velocity are now entering barrel zone.

This may also lead to increased XBH and fewer singles. This also leads to the last conclusion.

Mike Trout is awesome and you can’t stop him.

No, you can’t.