Before the ill-fated 2013 campaign began, I wrote a series for Halos Daily in which I tried to poke holes in Angel fan optimism. Reasons included strong AL West competition, weak pitching, and a lack of premier prospects to improve the roster via trades or promotions. While I’m not pleased with how the Angels’ season turned out, I am a little pleased with myself that my points seemed to hold true.
This is where the back patting stops, because Part 1 of that series was laughably wrong. The thesis of the post was that Mike Trout would regress, which, LOL. We now know that Trout is impervious to what we mere mortals call “regression.”
Anyway, one of my key points as to why Trout would regress is I didn’t believe in his power. All the scouting reports on him from his minor league days suggested he was more of a 20-25 player eventually, after he had developed his power. In one respect, I was right. His home run/flyball rate dropped to 16.5%, a 5% drop from his 2012 rate. Yet his isolated slugging dropped only four points because,* while hitting three fewer homers in 2013 than 2012, he hit one more triple and 12 more doubles (in only 18 more games). Basically, Trout may have hit fewer homers, but he was still efficient hitting for extra bases.
* He posted a .234 ISO, still good for ninth best in baseball.
The drop in home runs isn’t really all that concerning either because he won ESPN Home Run Tracker’s Golden Sledgehammer. This means Trout had the longest average true home run distance for players with at least 18 dingers, at 419.6 feet. Home Run Tracker explains that true distance is the estimated distance the ball would travel if the ball’s flight was uninterrupted and allowed to fall back to field level. So if Trout’s home run balls were not interrupted by seats/rock piles/peanut venders/etc., he would have the longest average home runs. Of anyone. In baseball. If that’s not power I don’t know what is.
In February I asked “was Trout’s 2012 home run binge a fluke?” No. No it was not. If anything, we’ve only seen the tip of Trout’s power iceberg. Is a 40-homer campaign on the horizon? Probably not, but I learned how foolish it is to bet against Mike Trout.