Mike Trout is currently hitting
.345. Barring a long slump, it is likely that he will end the season having posted one of the ten best batting averages for a twenty-year old hitter in baseball history.
Here’s the current list… [Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, John McGraw, Stuffy McInnis, Cecil Travis, Arky Vaughan]
Seeing this list got me thinking about the possibility of Mike Trout hitting .400. I don’t think he’ll hit .400 this year…but is there a chance he can hit .400 someday? ... Ten players is a small sample size to draw definitive conclusions from, but Trout is keeping good company. Six of the ten players listed won batting titles. Four of the ten came within striking distance of hitting .400. Two hit .400. It’s impressive company…
Trout’s strikeout rate is currently sitting at 18.5%, which is double the rates of all the [recent .400] challengers except [Todd] Helton. It is highly unlikely that Mike Trout could hit .400 while striking out 18% of the time…he would need a BABIP close to .500 to pull it off. Even a strikeout rate of 15% would require a BABIP of about .470 for Trout to hit .400.
Using some quick and dirty math, I’d say that Trout would need to just about halve his strikeout rate to make a serious run at a .400 batting average… [Rod] Carew managed to cut his strikeout rate in half. He did so while improving his walk rate, which lead to his spectacular 1977 season in Minnesota.
Sooner or later we’ll see another .400 hitter in the major leagues. I think it’ll come sooner rather than later, and I think that Mike Trout will be the guy to do it. I’ll give you an extra reason why… I think most fans, if they thought about it long enough, would agree that the biggest problem with the game as it is played is the huge number of strikeouts, which is continuing to creep up steadily… I think that major league baseball will decide that there are too many strikeouts, and they’ll figure out a way to increase contact while maintaining a reasonable balance between offense and defense.
A rule change that reduces the overall strikeout would help batting averages. And it would give Mike Trout a shot at hitting .400.