It can’t be easy being Mike Trout this year. While the rest of the Los Angeles Angels‘ offense struggles, Trout has been the only bright spot for much of the year.
His .329/.568/.991 slash line leads the Angels in all three categories.
Though it must be tempting to put the offense on his back and swing at pitches out of the zone, perhaps the most remarkable component of Trout’s offensive approach this year has been his precocious patience at the plate. Last year Trout had 67 walks in 139 total games. This year, he has reached that total in just 110 games, and leads the American League in that category.
Sure, the 22-year-old phenom hasn’t seen many good pitches this year, as starting pitchers know they have little to fear from the rest of the Angels lineup (it would be a different story if Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton didn’t completely drop the ball, so to speak, but I digress). Even so, plate discipline is something that takes most players many years to develop, and it was the one weakness in Trout’s game last year when he struck out 139 times (only 85 this year).
All of this spells bad news for American League pitchers. With the numbers he’s put up this year, how can Trout possibly improve? The scary answer is, he really can’t. The league has had nearly two full seasons to figure him out, and they haven’t done it. What could he possibly do, hit more home runs? Steal more bases, which would further expose him to injury risk? No, I think baseball fans may have to accept the fact that at a youthful 22, Trout has reached his full potential, and that is nothing less than the best five-tool player in all of baseball. How many players in history can say that?
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.