The many ways the best stays the best
Mike Trout in April hit a tidy .425/.523/.781 with six home runs and eight doubles, one of the very best months of the Angels superstar’s career. It’s the highest batting average and best on-base percentage of any month in his career.
Because he’s Mike Trout, he actually has five months with a better slugging percentage, and two months with a higher OPS, though in one of those better months (August 2011) he only played eight games.
Despite his incredible month, Trout didn’t win American League Player of the Month for April. That went to Byron Buxton of the Twins, who hit .426/.466/.897 to go with transcendent defense, so yeah, that makes sense. Trout not winning is actually the norm, since he’s only one AL Player of the Month five times, and hasn’t won it since September 2018.
At the very least, Trout was one of four other players to receive votes for AL Player of the Month, along with teammate Shohei Ohtani, White Sox designated hitter Yermin Mercedes, and Red Sox slugger JD Martinez.
But it’s not just that Trout is excelling. This isn’t necessarily new. But how he’s doing it is.
Jeff Passan at ESPN captured how Trout seems to always find ways to improve his game:
This is what he does. Opponents adjust, Trout adjusts better. Nobody sees more fastballs than the 62.8% Trout faced in the season’s first month, and yet pitchers are unwilling to throw him more off-speed pitches because he has punished them with even greater proficiency than heaters.
At Crashing the Pearly Gates, Brent Maguire detailed the myriad ways Trout has improved his game:
Trout was already the game’s premier hitter and player, something that is more true than ever right now. As he’s matured, Trout has morphed into the absolute best version of himself and a hitter who is impossible to pitch to. Trout is capable of covering any pitch in any zone, has maintained his elite plate discipline, and is now starting to add even more to his arsenal. Trout is hitting more hard-hit baseballs than ever before at optimal angles. He’s pulling baseballs more, which is a great pairing for more barreled baseballs. And he’s maintaining his elite discipline while also being more aggressive and swinging at more hittable pitches in the middle of the zone.
Sounds like a scary hitter to face.