May 8, 2019

Fish Out of Water - The "Story" Behind Mike Trout's Regression


I’m afraid I have some bad news.  Even though we knew Mike Trout’s regression was inevitable, no one thought it would happen so soon.  I’ve crunched the numbers, done the math and my statistical calculations indicate a sharp decline in Trout’s baseball performance. 

My metrics aren’t going to be found on FanGraphs or any other saber minded sight.  This analysis is ground breaking and dare I say, “Eye-popping.” 

Let’s dive into this; but before we do, I must warn you that this is going to be ugly.  You might lose sleep over what you’re about to read. You might not ever want to eat another peanut or open a box of cracker jacks because baseball as you know it – is never going to be the same.

I did a deep dive into Trout’s TGF (True Grit Factor).  TGF measures a player’s eye squint intensity (Think Troy Percival), their jaw clench force, the crimson pigmentation of their hind quarters and the volume of their baseball hat sweat saturation .  It also measures the square inches of dirt covering a player’s uniform, the rhythmic motion of their fingers wiggling before taking off for second base and the angle of their index finger when pointing back to their own dugout after a great play.

Suffice it to say, the higher a player’s TGF the better their on-their-field performance.  The scale goes from 1-100 and the only player ever to achieve a TGF of 100 is David Eckstein.  Prior to this season – Trout had a TGF of 998 (highest among active players), but has dipped to 992.  League average TGF is 714 and although Trout is well above league average – his decline is significant.

The root cause of Trout’s decline in TGF isn’t a mystery.  It is directly related to his elevated walk totals – which doesn’t allow Trout to demonstrate his hustle down the first base line when he actually gets to hit the ball.  Taking walks also reduces the amount of perspiration in his hat and dirt on his uniform.  Crimson pigmentation is also reduced significantly.

TGF is just one of the many indicators I studied.

I also took a look at this TTB (Toe Tap Balance).  Trout’s success in the batter’s box can be attributed to his ability to get his foot down prior to a pitch arriving in his hitting zone.  TTB measures the difference in time it takes for toes and the heel of a player’s foot to hit the ground.  In a perfect world – they would both hit the ground at precisely the same time.  Trout’s TTB prior to this season was .0075 seconds.  This means his toes were hitting the ground just .0075 second before his heel.  It was a close to perfect as humanly possible.  It was Michael Jackson like.

Trout’s current TTB is at an all-time high of .021 seconds.  This indicates an unbalanced approach to his hitting and if not corrected it could lower the exit velocity of his batted balls by as much as half a mile an hour.

I wish I could say that Trout’s TGF and TTB were the only metrics in decline, but I’m afraid that’s not the case.

Trout’s Post Game Exit Velocity (PGEV) also indicates a problem. PGEV measures the amount of time it takes a player to leave the stadium after the final out is recorded. The lower the PGEV, the better the player is at “turning the page” after a game (be it good or bad) and moving on to the next game. 

The league average PGEV is 2 hours and 47 minutes.  Prior to this season Trout’s PGEV was 2 hours and 9 minutes (league best).  This year it’s up to 3 hours and 10 minutes.  It’s obvious to me that he’s spending more time lamenting over Justin Bour’s base running blunders and Bour’s overall poor decision making in the field, not to mention (ok, I’m actually mentioning it), his suckitude with the bat.

Part of the blame for Trout’s poor PGEV is on the manager – Brad Ausmus. I have yet to hear Ausmus use the phrase “turn the page” in any of his postgame interviews.  Mike Scioscia used the phrase early and often and Ausmus has yet to adopt that philosophy.

Optioning Bour to Salt Lake City would likely impact Trout’s PGEV in a positive way, but I’m not certain that will happen.

Last, but certainly not least is Trout’s NWWWHR (Neck Wrench While Watching a Homerun).  Feel free to use the abbreviated version N3W. N3W is derived from the toque put on a player’s neck when watching the Angels’ pitching staff surrender a homerun.  The negative impact it’s having on Trout’s neck is monumental.  Balls are leaving the stadium as such at rapid and violent rate that it is putting too much torque on Trout’s neck.  This damage is likely irreversible. 

I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a Cahill here – but the physical impact is enormous.  It contributes to poor sleep and if Trout isn’t well rested – he’s not going to be able to perform at his highest level.  He’s already getting to bed later due to his elevated PGEV.  There are no Dark “(K)nights’ for Trout and the Bed-erosion of his sleep is serious.

All this goes to say, it’s going to be a long 12 years folks.  At Trout’s current rate of decline – the best we can hope for by the time Trout hits his 30’s is a Barry Bonds (in his prime) level performance.  And Bonds never won a World Series.  In fact the Giants won 3 World Series’ without him.  The good news is that we can expect the Angels to win at least 4 World Series’ after Trout’s retirement.

Just saying.

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