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[Fangraphs] The New and not-so Improved Trout

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Worth a read.


Excellent analysis over all, although my only point of divergence from the author (who is the guy who first compared Trout to Mantle, I believe) is that he seems to assume that Trout's change this year is irreversible, or that he can't continue evolving - a number of the comments voiced this divergence. For instance, one basically said "If Trout changed his approach so drastically before 2014, can't he do so again?"


I found it interesting that he says that Trout now looks more like another Giancarlo Stanton than another Mantle. While Stanton is great, he's no Mantle.



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Were not going to get old Trout back, but I could see him making adjustments and not striking out as much. I would like to see him steal more bases, but not at the risk of hamstring issues. He just seemed to be enamored with his umpiring ability this year and struck out looking a ton on border line pitches.

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And it's pretty apparent looking at the evidence that Trout came into this season with a different approach and mindset. He wanted to be a HR hitter. It was intentional. Who knows, maybe he took losing MVP to Cabrera personally?

I want the old Trout back!

I can't believe he did it just to win the MVP; however I agree with you, I want the old Trout back.

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Two of the better comments:


Trout apparently has sold out the approach that worked for him in his first two seasons for power, power, power.


I don’t believe that this is a fair or accurate characterization judging by Trout’s heatmaps. If you compare his contact rate in 2014 with 2013, it has stayed extremely consistent for pitches in the middle, down, and those on the inside of the plate. Meanwhile he actually improved his contact rate on pitches away, both on the edge and just off the plate. The part that changed was a substantial drop in contact rate high in the strike zone, where various FanGraphs writers have detailed teams attacking Trout with fastballs. It’s still a real change with a very significant effect, but I think the evidence much more strongly supports the notion that he is being pitched differently rather than him having changed his approach.




According to Brooks Baseball, in 2014 Trout saw 1,003 pitches in counts involving two strikes. In contrast, in 2012 and 2013, Trout saw respectively only 728 and 799 pitches in counts involving two strikes. Like every hitter, Trout struggles in two-strike counts. Unlike most hitters, Trout hits like Ted Williams in 1941 in counts with less than two strikes.


Considering the number of pitches Trout saw with two strikes in 2014, his strikeout rate was basically identical to his strikeout rate in 2012. However, Trout hit 15 homers in 2014 with two stikes, while he hit only 12 home runs combined in 2012 and 2013 with two strikes.

In other words, the 2014 Trout became a substantially more productive hitter with two strikes. But he found himself in far too many two-strike counts, and thus his overall K rate increased and his BA and OBP decreased.


If Trout can mitigate the number of two-strike counts to his 2012 and 2013 totals, then baseball will see the .320 hitter he was in 2012 and 2013 but with substantially more homers. And an obvious way to avoid two-strike counts is to swing at more first pitches.


In 2014 Trout swung at only 8 of the 70 first-pitches that were located in his wheelhouse: in the zone, down, and middle of the plate or in. On those pitches, Trout hit .464 and slugged .988. So Trout was taking far too many pitches that he routinely kills – and perhaps the best pitch he would see in the at bat. Amazingly, his swing percentage on these first pitches is virtually identical to his swing percentage on all first pitches, regardless of location. This gives the impression that Trout simply decides to take the first pitch in the vast majority of his at bats as a matter of course, instead of sitting on a particular pitch in a particular location and taking a hack.


I think Trout just needs to find a better balance between the virtue of his patient approach at the plate and being aggressive early in the count when he sees pitches that are in his wheelhouse. And, obviously, lay off the high fastballs out of the strike zone.

Edited by Angelsjunky
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