The Giants nearly lost their second catcher of the week during last night’s game against the Brewers.
Prince Fielder attempted to score on a single by Jonathan Lucroy in the bottom of the eighth inning and leaned into Eli Whiteside once it was obvious he was going to be a dead duck at home plate. However, Whiteside came away unscathed after pushing his arms out at Fielder to record the final out of the inning.
As Whiteside told Joe DiGiovanni of MLB.com, he tried to prepare himself for the worst.
“If he’s coming at you, you can go at him a little bit,” said Whiteside, who flipped the ball to home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski after the collision. “There’s no rule in the book says you can’t take it to him a little bit, you know?
Right on, Eli. Those pesky baserunners are always trying to score runs. Who do they think they are, anyway? They deserve a real punch in the mouth, do you know what I mean?
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.