The Dbacks are not worried about the 2011 All-Star Game, and they probably shouldn't be


Arizona outline.jpgThe protests against Arizona hosting the 2011 All-Star Game continue (although much more quietly this week), but the team is not at all worried:

“I’ve had absolutely no indication that we’d lose the game. In fact, I’m confident that it will stay here. I think it’s a difficult
precedent for any league to set, making decisions based upon
controversial state bills.”

That’s Dbacks’ CEO Derrick Hall, who makes a point I generally agree with, but who is seemingly forgetting that the NFL set exactly that precedent with the Super Bowl in 1993.

And when I say I agree with his point, I’m not saying that the game shouldn’t be pulled (I’m kind of agnostic on that at present) or that baseball should make some sort of statement on the immigration law.  I’m simply agreeing with the notion that, yeah, it’s pretty hard for a league to pull a marquee event like an All-Star Game just like that.

It’s a politics thing. No, not immigration politics, but internal baseball politics. The horse-trading, lobbying, interest-balancing and boot-licking (along with any number of other “ings”) that goes into granting a city an All-Star Game is of a scope so great that backtracking on one of those decisions creates a ripple effect.

If you pull the game from Arizona in 2011, you probably have to promise another one back to them once the law is changed or the heat dies down or something. That runs into the other teams who are already scheduled or are lobbying to be scheduled in the future. And then there’s the question of where to play next year, which kicks off a whole new, more urgent round of all of that stuff.

Baseball doesn’t want any part of that. For that reason, I seriously doubt that they’ll move the 2011 All-Star Game absent some major, major event like civil unrest on the streets of Phoenix or a MLBPA-sanctioned boycott of the game.  Riding out extrernal heat is much easier for them as an organization than creating new internal heat.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

Rob Tringali/Getty Images

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 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.