B'day basher Trout rips 2-strike pitches

Anthony J. Causi/Icon SMI

Mike Trout is having a historic season for any player, regardless of age.Mike Trout celebrated his 21st birthday in style on Tuesday night. His eighth-inning homer off Travis Blackley made him just the fifth player in major-league history to hit a home run on his 21st birthday.

It also was his 20th longball of the year, making him the youngest player all-time to hit 20 homers and steal 30 bases in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The “Next Level” Trout

What makes Trout stand out as a rookie is his ability to avoid outs in two-strike counts. His on-base percentage of .349 with two strikes ranks third in the majors and first in the American League.

Hit HR on 21st Birthday
MLB History

Another unique aspect of Trout’s hitting is his ability to hit pitches at his knees or lower. Trout is hitting .389 on pitches located in the bottom third of the zone or lower, which ranks first among major-leaguers.

Trout’s power comes mostly from his ability to mash offspeed pitches. His .741 slugging percentage against the “slow stuff” leads all players and is more than double the major-league average of .358.

The Trout Record Book

If Trout plays in every game the rest of the season, he’ll play in 139 games. If you project his current totals to 139 games, he will have 56 stolen bases, 31 home runs and a .346 batting average. No player in major-league history has finished a season with each of those numbers.

Trout leads the league in batting average, runs and stolen bases, while ranking second in slugging and OPS, and is third in on-base percentage. He is the only AL player to rank among the top three in each of the four “rate” stats (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS).

Highest WAR Among Position Players
Age 20 Season or Younger, All-time

He also leads all major-league players this season in Wins Above Replacement. His 7.1 WAR already is the fourth-highest for a position player in his age 20 season or younger (age as of June 30).

Another way to compare players across eras is using adjusted OPS (OPS+), which is OPS adjusted to the player’s league, ballpark and era.

Trout’s OPS+ of 183 this season would be the highest for any player in his age 20 season or younger with at least 300 plate appearances.

The Trout Trophy Shelf

Trout’s amazing season has made him a near-lock for AL rookie of the Year and put him among the top MVP contenders. The only two players to win an MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season are Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro (2001).

Youngest Players To Win Batting Title
Since 1900

Trout would be the youngest ever to win MVP at 21 years and 57 days old at the end of the regular season. The current youngest MVP winner is Vida Blue at the age of 22 in 1971.

If Trout maintains his lead in the batting race, he’ll join Tony Oliva (1964) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only rookies to win the batting title and would also be the third-youngest to do it since 1900, according to Elias.