The State of the Races


I think the photo just about sums it up.  Anyway, because I want there to be a record of all of this after my death (which should occur sometime on Monday or Tuesday at this rate), here’s where we stand:

AL Wild Card: Boston is like that kindly uncle holding out a dollar bill for little Jimmy to take. Except little Jimmy won’t take it for some reason, so the uncle gives it to Bobby instead.  The Rays are Jimmy and the Angels are Bobby.  Both are two and a half games back.  Tune in to HBT Daily later today as Tiffany mocks me about all of this. Because she’s about the only person I know who picked the Angels to go to the playoffs.

NL Wild Card: Boston’s collapse has gotten way more press because they’re Boston, but they friggin’ gained ground on their nearest pursuer yesterday. The Braves, in contrast, are going into their collapse with full gusto.  But let’s be clear about something: we do the Cardinals a great disservice when we make this all about the Braves’ collapse. Yes, that’s real and I’m not trying to minimize it at all, but let’s not forget that the Cardinals have won 12 of 14, including a sweep of the Braves not too long ago. A collapse can’t happen in a vacuum. Someone has to capitalize, and the Cardinals are doing just that. San Francisco is still lurking at 3.5 back.

As for the rest:

AL East: Signed, sealed and delivered to the Yankees.
AL Central: The Tigers are busy setting up their playoff roation.
AL West: The Rangers’ magic number is three. But even if they clinch, they have meaningful games against the Angels next week.
NL East: Philly has nothing left to accomplish in the regular season, but arresting that five-game skid would be nice.
NL Central: Brewers’ magic number is three.
NL West: Diamondbacks’ magic number is two.

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 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.