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Mike Trout: Pull Hitting Monster

Changing and still getting better…

By Owen McGrattanPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

Surprise! Mike Trout is still the best player in baseball. He’s missed a month due to injury and is still a strong candidate to comeback and win the AL MVP award in a year when Aaron Judge is mashing everything into orbit and Jose Altuve’s hitting is more unbelievable than the fact that Houston’s mascot Orbit is supposed to be an alien (how is this an alien?!!?). Trout’s line this year is .328/.450/.719 with a 17.1% BB% and 20.4% K%, good for a 203 wRC+ over 240 PA. Given, we are not dealing with a full season of Trout but we are already seeing multiple changes in Trout’s approach at the plate.

Detailed earlier in the year by Ben Lindbergh, Trout is swinging more often but most importantly he’s managed to swing at more pitches in the zone while cutting down on swings out of the zone.


Yes he is swinging more, but he’s cutting back on chases and swinging at more pitches in the zone. His Zone Swing%, or Z-Swing%, this year is 10% higher than his career average and 7% higher than last year’s mark. He’s more disciplined now, as if he needed to get better at anything.

So he’s seeing the ball better than ever before, no biggie (I am being sarcastic, it’s a big deal).

What else is he doing? Smoking balls to the pull side like he never has before. He’s not actually pulling the ball more this year, his 36.9% Pull% is above his career norm but below his 40.5% Pull% in 2016. As many would expect, the pull side is where every hitter does damage and it’s been that way for Trout as well. On batted balls to the pull side this year, Trout has a 369 wRC+ compared to his career average 263 wRC+. He hasn’t hit the threshold for the qualified number of plate appearances but his 369 wRC+, .537 Avg, .706 wOBA, and 58.2% Hard% would all be tops in the league.

On balls to the pull side, Trout is putting it in the air more than he has before. With a career average 61.4% GB% on balls to the pull side, Trout has seen that number drop to 49% this year. It’s not like he’s been hitting easy flyballs or liners either. The Hard% on balls pulled for Trout has gone up year after year starting at 37% in 2012 and slowly working its way up to 45% in 2016 and 58% this year. He’s already hit 9 HRs to the pull side this year compared to 14 in all of 2016 and 8 2Bs this year compared to 12 2Bs through all of 2016 (54 balls to the pull side in 2017 vs 169 in 2016).

To get a feel as to how that is all looking this year, let’s take a look at his 2017 HRs and 2016 HRs:

Those balls to left and left-center are traveling further in 2017. Trout’s average flyball distance is 20 ft greater than last year as well (352 ft vs 332 ft). Trout also upped his exit velo on flyballs from 93.2 MPH in 2016 up to 96.5 MPH in 2017. But it’s not like he is getting inside pitches and pulling them either. A look at the pitches he’s hit for home runs:

(Baseball Savant)

Three of those pitches are classified as being on the inside part of the plate, the rest are all dead center or away. And Trout isn’t going to be pitched on the inside part of the plate, it’s been tried, he’s adjusted, and he’s made pitchers pay. It might be getting to the point here where pitchers run out of adjustments to make towards Trout and he’s adjusting the ways in which he does damage to pitchers.

Mike Trout is consistently amazing but he’s constantly evolving in small ways. The latest iteration of Trout is disciplined and clobbering baseballs to the pull side like no one else. It’s not like he’s doing poorly on balls hit up the middle and away either, he’s still hitting 63% of his balls up the middle and away to the tune of a 202 wRC+. We’re getting to the point where the changes can only be minimal for Trout because he’s just about the peak of what a player could be. It’s damn fun to see and we should always be paying attention to what Trout is doing, the best is getting better at something.

(all stats through 6/26, stats and data via Baseball Savant and FanGraphs)


About the Creator

Owen McGrattan

Writer @ The Unbalanced (@ItheunbalancedI).

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