FG on Fox: Mike Trout and a League-Wide Trend

Note: this was originally published last Friday. Just not here! Whoopsadoodle!

If you’ve watched an Angels game lately, you’ve probably seen it. If you’ve just read about the Angels lately, you’ve probably heard about it. Every hitter in baseball has his own relative hot zones and relative cold zones, but Mike Trout‘s been running a particularly interesting heat map.

It looks something like this:


The general message being sent: Mike Trout has been absolutely killing pitches down in and beyond the zone. Yet, he’s been struggling against pitches up. You can see it in color form, as above, or you can see it in numerical form. Against pitches in the lower third of the strike zone this year, Trout’s slugged a spectacular .875. Against pitches in the upper third of the strike zone this year, Trout’s slugged a feeble .211. The former is among the best in the league. The latter’s among the very worst.

Everyone’s picked up on it by now. Trout, I’m sure, knows what’s going on. This is information that’s been noted repeatedly on ESPN and the MLB Network. Based on this, it seems like Trout shouldn’t actually be all that difficult to put away. But, yeah. He’s probably on course to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player award. And despite what the numbers say, Trout’s seen more low pitches than high pitches. To this point, 11 percent of his pitches have been in that upper third. And 14 percent have been in the bottom third. It seems odd, but Trout is just an extreme example of a league-wide trend.

Read the rest on Just A Bit Outside.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

11 Responses to “FG on Fox: Mike Trout and a League-Wide Trend”

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  1. LHPSU says:

    The thing is, the only pitch that’s really effective up in the zone is a fastball with good velocity and hopefully movement. While a good high fastball might get a swing & miss or an easy pop fly, a slow pitch up there has a much higher chance of getting crushed.

    The trend on having pitchers elevate their fastballs might simply reflect the trend that pitchers today are throwing harder than ever, which means that more pitchers can be effective up in the zone.

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    • Brian L says:

      Or somewhat the opposite, that pitchers are throwing more offspeed stuff than before, and clearly trying to keep those pitches down in the zone. Or both – more low breaking pitches/changeups along with fewer but faster and higher fastballs.

      Either way it all seems very interconnected.

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    • Pail says:

      Chris Young has done well with his fastball up in the zone despite it’s lack of good velocity and movement. Perhaps pitchers just don’t understand how effective up and in can be with even mediocre velocity.

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  2. Dude says:

    Ah, the desperate attempts of a Mariners fan to put a stop to the Angels steamroll of the division. No try but no cigar – Trout has re-adjusted again, has a 186 wRC+ in his last 10 games.

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    • AS says:

      Yeah, you’re right. Jeff wrote this article as away to tip off the Mariners front office to something they didn’t already know.

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    • October 12, 1986 says:

      The Angels do not steamroll. They are careful not to exhale, given a history that is littered with the 1982 ALCS, Luis Sanchez, last week of the 1985 season, Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS, Dave Henderson, 1995, 1998, etc. etc. etc.

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  3. Shuck Bowalter says:

    Do you think at some point the Angels tell Mike Trout to stop trying to be Miguel Cabrerra and just be Mike Trout? Or did his running tool peak in 2012 and this is the player he’s gonna be from now on?

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    • chri521 says:

      Surmised a bunch of times on MLB network and also in chats here that Trout’s trying to maximize his power knowing that speed and steals decline first and can lead to more wear and tear over the course of the year. Is a 5-10 homer bump and a >10% bump in ISO worth 20 points of BA, 20 steals and 50k’s?

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  4. Llogan says:

    Seems that more pitchers would throw up in the zone if they were effective there. Seems more like a case of only good pitchers throwing up in the zone while all pitchers throw low in the zone. I would guess that the league wide trend is more related to pitchers throwing down in the zone and trying to get ground balls than batters bing bad at hitting up in the zone.

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    • Jon L. says:

      I totally agree. It’s not like Trout sees a random selection of pitches, some of which happen to be high. The high pitches thrown to him may generally be higher-quality pitches. He also may not be targeting that area of the zone, considering that he’s been less effective hitting those pitches and sees them less often.

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