If I was a betting man, I would bet on regression. Mike Trout is a beast but is he THAT much of a beast?
Yesterday, Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs wrote an article about the possibility of a breakout season from Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. In the article, Sullivan dropped this little gem:
"...this is the tease. Go into the numbers looking for something, and you’ll subconsciously try your damnedest to find something and convince yourself it’s meaningful."Which is exactly what I did immediately after read his article. Except, instead of looking for greatness, I went looking for regression. I went looking for the human in Mike Trout.
The first thing that seems destine to regress is Trout's power numbers. In a little over 1300 plate appearances in the minor leagues, Trout hit 23 home runs. In 639 major league plate appearances last year, he hit 30. At Angels stadium, known for being pitcher friendly, he hit 16 of those 30.
No one saw that coming, right? Wrong. Here's what Baseball Prospectus had to say about Trout prior to 2011:
By the time he arrives in The Show, the center fielder may have slowed slightly, but he’ll likely have compensated by heaping additional home runs atop his ample helpings of doubles and triples.
Good job, Baseball Prospectus.
Delving into his splits, Trout "cooled off" (strong emphasis on quotations) near the end of the year. His OPS went from 1.019 between late April to July to .883 for the final two months (and three days) of the season. He also struck out more frequently in the final 2 months rasing his K% to almost 25% from the 19% he maintained the rest of the year.
Here's his batting slash:
April to July: .353/.411/.608
August to October: 287/.383/.500
So what can we take from this? Nothing really other than Mike Trout is still a superhuman.
If his August to October batting line was his season-ending slash, his OPS would would still put him 13th in all of the majors (he finished third). And his maintained his power in the final third of the season, hitting a home run in almost 4.5% of his plate appearances.
Conclusion: Mike Trout is really great.