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Mike Trout will likely bat second in the Angels’ lineup

Feb 14, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

Mike Trout Getty Getty Images

Mike Trout started the 2013 season hitting second in the Angels’ lineup, but moved to the #3 spot when Albert Pujols went on the disabled list in late July. He produced similarly in both spots, posting a 1.015 in 405 plate appearances in the two-hole, and a .963 OPS in 223 PA batting third.

With Pujols reportedly feeling fine, Trout is likely to move back to second in the order, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Some, citing Trout’s otherworldly .432 on-base percentage, have suggested the AL’s back-to-back runner-up MVP should lead off, but manager Mike Scioscia isn’t a fan of the idea.

“I don’t think we’re going to rule out anything with Mike, but if he’s hitting first, there’s no doubt you need a hitter behind him who’s going to give him the protection he needs, to where it’s not as routine (to walk him) as you saw last year,” Scioscia said.

Scioscia said Kole Calhoun could be one candidate to take over the lead-off spot. The Angels toyed with their lineup a lot over the course of the 2013 season, leading off with J.B. Shuck 64 times, Erick Aybar 46 times, the now-departed Peter Bourjos 20 times; as well as Trout 18, Calhoun six, Collin Cowgill five, and Alberto Callaspo three times.

  1. nymets4ever - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    Lineup construction is one of the most overrated, over-discussed facets of baseball and the stats bear that out. This thread is going to amount to nothing more than a Mike Trout lovefest and conversation about his record-setting future contract.

    • locustfarm - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:38 PM

      “This thread is going to amount to nothing more than a Mike Trout lovefest and conversation about his record-setting future contract.”

      It wasn’t until you began it.

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      I assume you’re in favor of Dusty Baker managing your favorite team then.

      He goes out of his way to bat someone lead who can NOT get on base at all…

      Nothing like having a guy in the #1 and #2 spots who get on base so those in the #3 and #4 spots have someone to drive in since they are usually the big boppers in a lineup.

      There IS also something to be said for, within reason, utilizing both lefties and righties in a lineup in such a way that it makes it more difficult for the opposing manager to change pitchers so often. If a team had 3 left handed hitters coming up in a row, the other team most likely (later on in the game) put a left handed pitcher into the game. They are given pause if, based on LINEUP CONSTRUCTION, the lefties are broken up by a right handed hitting batter or two…

      Is lineup construction THE most important aspect? Of course not. But it is important.

      Also, the #1 and #2 hitters get many more plate appearances in the course of a season than do the #7 and #8 hitters.

      Any team with a Mike Trout WANTS them to come to the plate A LOT.

  2. mianfr - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Agreed it’s overrated, but doesn’t one of the many (as in, way too many, study something original, like why WAR/PA doesn’t correlate year to year for most hitters) pieces of research conclude your best hitter should bat second anyway? Then fifth, then fourth?

    • happytwinsfan - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      thank you for inspiring me to do a quick google up of lineup construction and come across some of the stuff i think you’re referring to.

      i wonder if those studies might be engaging in circular reasoning to an extent in that they are based on game results where the managers are by and large indulging in the traditional approach of speedy guy first, bat control guy second etc.

      i’m thinking that the best approach might be for the manager to think of terms of the other team’s bullpen. if trout comes up in a critical situation, which reliever is the other team most likely to bring in and how can i make that as painful as possible for them in my choice of who hits behind him.

      or is that out weighted by simply giving your best hitters as many at bats as possible. or, since these sorts of tweaks seem to have a minimal impact, is it best to just go with an order which assuages the egos of your key players. interesting stuff.

      • mianfr - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        The methodology of all of these studies (it’s just now occurring to me that all of the time I’ve wasted reading these articles makes me part of the problem, God I hate myself) from what I can gather is effectively a Monte Carlo simulation of how you structure your OBP guys and SLG guys so that you knock in the most runs over time.

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words Monte Carlo mentioned explicitly, but nevertheless that seems like what they’re doing (researchers like to keep their methods on the down low).

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 15, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        It’s far more in depth than just running a Monte Carlo simulation. [and all that really is, is simulating something a large number of times, 100,000 for instance]

        The ideal lineup construction argument is from The Book by Tom Tango, MGL and Andrew Dolphin. It also discusses many other issues such as run expectancy, starting pitching times thru the order, leverage, etc.

        i wonder if those studies might be engaging in circular reasoning to an extent in that they are based on game results where the managers are by and large indulging in the traditional approach of speedy guy first, bat control guy second etc.

        See above. The issue most have with “lineup construction” is that, while most managers aren’t using the most ideal lineup, they aren’t using the worst either.

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 15, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        mianfr: if you enjoyed doing it don’t hate yourself for it.

        church:

        a summary of and excerpts from The Book is what i came across. sounds like what they’re doing is the baseball version of a virtual wind tunnel. oof duh, too much for me. now is probably a good time to remember that baseball players aren’t plug and play automatons. if they’re told to hit sixth instead of third because of some formula they don’t understand, you would expect it to negatively impact their play, washing away the positive impact discovered by the formula.

        although it can be fun to think about this. i’m glad that although baseball can be well informed by numbers, it can’t be completely reduced to numbers.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 15, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        if they’re told to hit sixth instead of third because of some formula they don’t understand, you would expect it to negatively impact their play, washing away the positive impact discovered by the formula.

        There’s no complex formula needed. It’s actually rather simple, the higher up you hit in the order, the more times you come to bat. According to The Book, from 92-02, the lead-off man got one extra at bat every five games over the #3 hitter. The lead-off man got one every two games compared to the #5 hitter. It’s the reason why you want your best hitters hitting at the top of the order. There’s more in depth math detailing specific areas, but even then the player doesn’t need to know how the conclusions were reached, just why.

        For instance, you should put our best hitter 2nd, not 3rd. Reason being that far too often the #3 hitter comes to bat with 2 outs and no one on. The hitter doesn’t need to know how the conclusions were reached, but should understand why it’s so.

        although it can be fun to think about this. i’m glad that although baseball can be well informed by numbers, it can’t be completely reduced to numbers.

        We’re starting to travel down a road where those of us enjoy stats are having to defend an argument that’s not being made. Let’s stick to what people are saying/writing.

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:18 AM

        thanks church. you’ve thought this through way better then i have. forgive me if it takes me a while to understand it.

        won’t it be nice when in over a little bit more then a month from now, for the warm half of this coming year in our lives, we’re watching our boys play most every night instead of theorizing about it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        won’t it be nice when in over a little bit more then a month from now, for the warm half of this coming year in our lives, we’re watching our boys play most every night instead of theorizing about it.

        Agreed, except as a Yanks fan, I have a feeling this year is going to be filled with a lot of agita. I’m getting too old for this….stuff.

  3. jeffa43 - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    This guy is going to get on.. steal 2nd… steal 3rd… Hamilton and Albert still have what it takes to ground out, or fly out deep.

    He will score a lot of runs…

    • mordecofe - Feb 15, 2014 at 3:49 AM

      Actually, what happened last year, before Pujols finally gave up on his foot, and what I expect to happen a lot this year if Trout hits 2nd and Pujols 3rd, is that Trout gets on, then doesn’t steal and Pujols grounds into a DP.

      Supposedly, Pujols doesn’t like runners taking off when he’s at bat.

      DP galore. At least Albert will have a lot of chances to set a record cause Trout gets on so often…

    • brianc6234 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      How will Trout steal any bases when Scioscia won’t give him the green light to steal whenever he wants to? Can’t mess up Pujols’ at-bats with someone trying to steal.

  4. andreweac - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Scioscia is spot on.

  5. meatcarroll - Feb 15, 2014 at 6:08 AM

    The Mariners are going to sign Trout just like they signed away the Yankees’ precious Robinson Cano. The rest of the MLB merely exists for the sole purpose of being Seattle’s extended farm system.

  6. meatcarroll - Feb 15, 2014 at 6:08 AM

    The Mariners are going to sign Trout just like they signed away the Yankees’ precious Robinson Cano. The rest of the MLB merely exists for the sole purpose of being Seattle’s extended farm system.

    • brianc6234 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Bwahaha. Good one. You’re funny.

  7. onbucky96 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Can the Angels just trade Trout to the Yankees already? We all know that’s where he’ll end up in a few yrs, let’s just succumb to the inevitable fate that is Trout in Pinstripes. Cue the Imperial March…

    • brianc6234 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Not true. As soon as the season starts the Angels will sign a long term deal with Trout that will keep him as an Angel his whole career. Sorry to tell you the bad news.

  8. nolasoxfan2012 - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    After seeing 2012 Trout lead the league in runs (129) and steals (49), while hitting 30 homers in just 139 games, mostly as a leadoff hitter, I would have pretty much left him in that spot for the rest of his career. If 2012 Trout didn’t need lineup protection, I have no idea why the 2013 or 2014 versions would.

  9. jpm557 - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    People need to understand that it’s only a matter of time before Trout ends up in Flushing

    • brianc6234 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      What does Trout have to do with toilets?

  10. genericcommenter - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Derek Jesus bats 2nd. So it should be considered an honor for anyone.

  11. brianc6234 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    The problem with Trout batting second is Scioscia will always want him to give up at-bats bunting the runner from first to second. That is if the Angels have a good lead-off hitter. Might as well have him be the lead-off hitter.

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