This is pretty awesome. Because the posting fee for Japanese players is now capped at $20 million, teams have a way lower incentive to post their players, as they used to be able to get way more. That’s been the holdup for Rakuten, the team which is trying to decide if it will post Masahiro Tanaka. Is it worth losing the best pitcher they’ll likely have for decades for $20 million?
Well, their competition is helping make that decision easier:
This is fantastic. I mean, yes, there may be other incentives at play here, but I’m going to choose to think that this is the equivalent of the other NL West teams paying the Dodgers to get rid of Clayton Kershaw or the AL Central teams banding together to encourage the Tigers to release Miguel Cabrera.
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.