Last night, Mike Trout went 3-for-6 with a double, a homer, two runs, and an RBI. The Angels won, 8-2, over the Blue Jays, but let’s get back to that home run. Here’s what Mike Trout’s body looked like just moments before making contact with a pitch that went over the left field fence:
We all know what a typical home run swing looks like, and it sure doesn’t look like that. We also know what a normal baseball player looks like, and it sure doesn’t look like Mike Trout.
That’s Marco Estrada on the mound, and over the past two seasons, Estrada’s been among the league’s best pitchers at keeping runs off the board. Estrada works his high-spin fastball up in the zone, and plays a bugs-bunny changeup off that fastball to great success. This year, Estrada’s changeup has graded out as the game’s sixth-most valuable change, right ahead of Chris Sale’s. It’s truly one of the game’s best changeups, particularly when it’s located in the bottom of the zone.
That pitch you see above, that’s Estrada’s elite change. It’s located in the bottom of the zone. It couldn’t be located much better. Before last night, when Estrada put the changeup below the strike zone this year, batters slugged a pitiful .225. When they swung, they whiffed 60% of the time, and when they put it in play, they couldn’t do anything with it. The pitch pictured above might be the single most limiting pitch in Marco Estrada’s arsenal. It’s a success almost every time.
Here it is in video form:
We all know that Trout is among the game’s premier low-ball hitters. He might be the very best low-ball hitter. Even the game’s potentially best low-ball hitter’s never quite hit a pitch like this one out:
That’s every Trout homer on a change in his career. Last night’s stands alone.
It stands alone for Estrada, too. Even the game’s potentially premier changeup pitcher has never quite had a pitch like this one hit out:
It’s the second-lowest home run hit against a changeup all year, by any batter against any pitcher. I know you already knew Mike Trout was a great low-ball hitter. I know you’ve seen Trout homers not too dissimilar from this one before. But nobody’s ever bothered by a reminder that even against the best, Mike Trout is better. Any reason to watch Trout be great is reason enough.
August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is another baseball thing that made me think of Fangraghs first. When I watched this home run live yesterday, the first thing I thought of was Jeff’s article, I was like, “Yeah, Trout does that, I read about it.”
What have you done to me Fangraphs? Have I been Incepted?