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« For Ichiro, More Fly Balls Don't Pay Off | Main | Matt Moore's Not Fooling Lefties »

Trout Killing Pitchers Softly

When the Angels initially called up Mike Trout last July, the then-19-year-old scuffled against major league heat. Trout batted just .149 against fastballs and slugged .298 in 2011. Those fastball woes seemingly promoted pitchers to challenge Trout with lots of fastballs this season when L.A. called him up from the minors in late April. No batter saw more fastballs than Trout (64 percent) during the month of May.

Trout has proved much more adept against the heat the second time around, batting .317 and slugging .489 against fastballs in 2012. That has led pitchers to change their approach, feeding Trout fastballs just 48 percent of the time in June and so far in July. Unfortunately for them, he's proving to be even more deadly against breaking and off-speed pitches. Check out Trout's slugging percentage against "soft" stuff -- curves, sliders and changeups -- compared to the league average:

Trout's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. curveballs, sliders and changeups

 Average slugging percentage by pitch location vs. curveballs, sliders and changeups in 2012

Trout has been the game's greatest slugger against breaking and off-speed pitches this season:

BatterSlugging Pct. vs. Soft Stuff
Mike Trout .698
Matt Holliday .653
Robinson Cano .651
Josh Hamilton .623
Mark Trumbo .603
Ryan Braun .594
Josh Reddick .591
Joey Votto .569
A. J. Pierzynski .560
Giancarlo Stanton .547
MLB Avg. .376


Trout struggled with big league fastballs at first, and pitchers pounced. He adjusted to handle the heat, and opponents responded by giving him more curves, sliders and changeups. Now that Trout's killing the soft stuff, what's a pitcher to do? Develop a knuckler? Come down with food poisoning during that scheduled started against L.A.? Get traded to the Angels? Stay tuned.

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