Mike Trout stays patient as pitchers take a pass

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When Mike Trout was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels and began his journey through the minor leagues, he vowed to never swing until the opposing pitcher threw the first strike. Trout wanted to build a foundation of plate discipline at the professional level, and it didn’t matter if it meant consistently falling behind in counts as a developing hitter. He was that confident in his approach.

Coaches tried to shake the habit off him, worried that he might be getting too passive, but Trout didn’t budge. Through 286 games in the Angels’ farm system, his patience hardly wavered.

“I just wanted to have that mindset,” Trout said. “It made me a better hitter when I got deep in the count.”

That composure, that persistence, is worth noting now, with Trout consistently staying within himself while continually seeing fewer chances. On Friday night — in the sixth inning, with runners on second and third, two outs and the Los Angeles Dodgers leading by two — Trout was intentionally walked for a major league-leading 15th time this season. It tied his previous career high set last year, but with 73 games left on the Angels’ schedule.6

Trout has already worked 78 walks and is on pace to draw 140 of them in 2018, which would be the second most in baseball since Barry Bonds obliterated conventionality in the early 2000s. Trout is seeing 42.1 percent of pitches inside the strike zone, the lowest rate of his career, according to FanGraphs. More than 90 players have seen strikes less frequently, but that is mostly a function of pitchers understanding that Trout will hardly ever chase.

“He’s the best player in the game, and we have to be very careful,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before this weekend’s Freeway Series. “It doesn’t matter how he’s going recently. If the game dictates, obviously he’s a guy you don’t want to beat you.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Trout is in the midst of a mini-slump, with 11 hits and 17 strikeouts in 54 at-bats since June 21. But he has also drawn 14 walks, six of them intentionally. And he has swung at only 15.2 percent of pitches outside the strike zone during that time, a mark that is the 11th best in the majors and is actually lower than his career chase rate of 21.5 percent.