If you asked most baseball experts, they’d tell you that Angels prospect Tyler Chatwood is not ready for the big leagues. He made just one appearance above the Double-A level last season and turned 21 years old in December. There’s still an awful lot of polishing on the docket for the youngster.
But he didn’t play that part on Saturday evening against the White Sox. In fact, he looked like an experienced veteran.
Chatwood allowed only one run and five hits over seven innings in below-freezing temperatures at Chicago’s U.S Cellular Field, shutting down a powerful White Sox lineup by mixing a high-90s fastball and mid-70s curve. He walked only two and struck out three, needing only 92 total pitches to earn his first career major league victory in Anaheim’s 7-2 win.
The Angels are only relying on Chatwood here in mid-April because both Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro have landed on the disabled list. The young right-hander isn’t going to be guaranteed a rotation spot for the rest of the season, or even the rest of this month, but he can sure make things interesting if he continues to have success against quality major league lineups.
If Chatwood is doing the job and Kazmir continues to look lost when he returns, the Halos will have a big decision to make. And upside usually rules when it comes to such things.
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.