Ex-Cub Murton to continue career in Japan

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The Rockies on Monday released Matt Murton so that he could pursue opportunities in Japan.
Murton’s career started out in very promising fashion, as he hit .321/.386/.521 in 140 at-bats as a rookie in 2005 and .297/.365/.444 while playing regularly for the Cubs in 2006. The Cubs, though, wanted more power that he was giving them, and they brought in Cliff Floyd to share time with him in 2007. Murton ended up back in the minors for a time, and he never got a chance to reestablish himself with the Cubs or A’s in 2008 or the Rockies last season.
Murton is just 28, and he likely had some additional 800 OPS seasons in his bat. However, he wasn’t a 25-homer guy and he didn’t offer a lot defensively, so he wasn’t likely to find an MLB team willing to pencil him in as a starter in left field. The opportunity to play regularly and earn more money in Japan was one he had to take.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.