If the season ended today, two things would happen: (1) we’d all be really surprised and would demand explanations; and (2) we’d have the Rangers facing the Rays in the ALDS, just like they are tonight.
And we’d likely have tonight’s matchup as well: Cliff Lee vs. David Price, which considering the struggles Tim Lincecum is now going through, tops the Ubaldo Jimenez-Lincecum matchup from last month and stands out as the matchup of the year.
Maybe the most intriguing thing about the matchup is that each starter has had trouble with the opposition. Two of Lee’s first four starts this season came against the Rays, and he lost both of them. Price hasn’t faced the Rangers this season, but he’s 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts against Texas.
Every time I hype up a matchup like this it ends up being a dud. Here’s hoping my luck changes, because there are only eight games tonight, and I really want this one to be good.
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.