Examining Trout's baserunning 'issue'
June, 22, 2014
By Buster Olney | ESPN Insider
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMike Trout's ferocity on the basepaths is both a sight and a sound to behold.ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A small smile developed on the face of Los Angeles Angels bench coach Dino Ebel when he was asked about Mike Trout's tendency to make his turn on the bases at something close to a right angle, an indication that this imperfection has been discussed with the game’s best player.
“He’s aware of it,” said Ebel, still smiling. “He has gotten better.”
The path of baserunners moving at full speed through a base will typically follow something of an arc. But Trout tends to get to a base and turn, cutting off the arc; he reaches the bag then moves left. While it’s not a style that Tom Emanski would recommend in instructional videos, it’s much more of a curiosity than a problem, because there’s no evidence that this actually slows him.
“He’s got special talent,” said Ebel, “and he can do it that way.”
Trout said that as a youngster he used to run the bases differently, but when he reached the minors, he worked on reducing the angle of his turn.
No matter what route he takes, opponents and base coaches will hear Trout as he nears a bag, a loud sound that is a combination of Trout breathing like a sprinter and his feet hitting the ground at a high rate of speed beneath his 235 pounds. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez mentioned last weekend that he could hear Trout running from the home dugout in Atlanta, and Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin said that when Trout is halfway up the first-base line, his run is at full volume.
“He sounds like somebody’s chasing him,” Griffin said, chuckling.
Ebel said that when he was the Angels’ third-base coach, opposing infielders would glance at him after hearing Trout run for the first time, “with wide eyes. You get a lot of ‘wows’ from shortstops and third basemen.
“It’s a weird noise, a powerful run. This place packs 42,000 [fans] and they are loud, but I can still hear it when he gets closer.”
Trout and the Angels face Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers on "Sunday Night Baseball" (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and WatchESPN). Howie Kendrick got a walk-off hit for the Angels against the Rangers on Saturday. Albert Pujols was out of the starting lineup.
Darvish continues to improve
If Darvish stays on schedule, he would likely start the final Sunday before the All-Star break. Otherwise, he would be an excellent candidate to start for the American League, because he is off to the best start in his three seasons in the majors, with a 2.39 ERA in his first 13 outings. He has 109 strikeouts and just 32 walks in 90 1/3 innings, while his approach to getting hitters out has shifted this season.
Darvish has used his fastball much more and relied on his cut fastball and slider less, according to FanGraphs. Last year, he threw his fastball on 38.2 percent of his pitches, and this year, that percentage has rocketed to 57.8 percent.
Chris Gimenez, who has been working as Darvish’s catcher, said the thought is that if the right-hander can get ahead in the count or get outs early in the count, this will enable him to stay in games longer.