Let’s face it, Mike Trout is the best in the game right now and he proves it year in and year out. We were all robbed of the opportunity to watch what most likely would have been his best season thus far, one of the best seasons ever! It was heartbreaking to see him go down.
With that said, let’s dive into some of Mike Trout’s 2017 season stats and help determine what that may mean for 2018. That stat to focus most on is his walk to strikeout ratio which was a whopping 1.04 (meaning he had 1.04 walks to every strikeout). According to Fangraphs, this ranked #3 of all qualified hitters in 2017, and was Trout’s best season in this area by quite a large margin – his previous best was 0.85 in 2016.
So what exactly happened here? Well let’s start with the obvious, his walk rate (18.5%) was the highest of his career, and only 2016 (17%) comes close. His strikeout rate dropped significantly from a career best of 19% in 2013 to 17.8%! The short story here is Trout’s plate discipline improved dramatically and we need to understand why.
Taking a deep dive into his plate discipline numbers we see he improved nearly across the board. He truly had better plate discipline.
- His swing rate on pitches outside the zone was the lowest of his career and over 3% lower than 2016
- He actually swung at more pitches inside the strike zone
- He swung at less pitches overall compared to both 2016 and 2015
- Had the highest contact rate of his career at 83.5%
- His pitches seen inside the zone was right around his career norm – meaning he wasn’t necessarily being pitched around
Clearly Trout made a significant improvement to his ability to see the zone and react better to pitches.
So what does this tell us, besides the fact that Trout is an absolute beast. All the data shows validation that Trout, somewhat amazingly, upped his game to yet another level. This is the third season in a row he has both lowered his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate. His hard hit rate continues to be consistently high, and I really only see two other significant outliers within his 2017 season. His ISO was the highest of his career by .033 and his BABIP was the lowest at a measly .318 (his previous lowest was .344!).
You should have confidence that everything Mike Trout did in 2017 is absolutely repeatable. Sure, all of those numbers may not stay as strong, but most will; and considering there is a strong chance we will see improvement in BABIP – 2018 may be the best Trout we have seen yet.