Facing Marlins pitcher Vance Worley in the first inning of Saturday, Mike Trout unleashed his famously quick swing and whacked his MLB-leading 16th home run deep—very deep—to left-center field to give the Angels a 1-0 lead over Miami.
According to Statcast, the homer traveled 443 feet and was the hardest-hit home run of the year, coming off Trout’s bat at 114 miles per hour.
Trout smash. pic.twitter.com/UqEFfHf5b2
— MLB (@MLB) May 27, 2017
The long ball was just the latest example of an unbelievable phenomenon: Trout, who has finished in the top two in MVP voting in each of his five full seasons, might actually be getting better.
Trout entered this season with a career batting average (.306) in line with Hank Aaron, an on-base percentage (.405) that topped Rickey Henderson, a slugging percentage (.557) comparable to Willie Mays, an OPS (.963) a touch ahead of Albert Pujols and an OPS+ (169) higher than Aaron, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and all but nine other players in baseball history.
He also had 143 stolen bases and a reputation as one of the better center fielders in baseball. Altogether Trout, through five years and change, had amassed 48.5 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, putting him ahead of many lower-tier home runs.
It seemed safe to say Trout, 25, would not get much better, even as he entered what is typically considered a player’s prime. After all, how can someone improve on being one of the best ever?
Well here we are on May 27, and Trout is on track for career highs in average, OBP, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and home runs, leading the AL in the latter four of those categories. He’s hitting with more power than ever and stealing bases at a rate he hasn’t in years. He’s walking more and striking out less than in previous years. For all those reasons, he’s leading the Majors with a 3.3 WAR, which puts him on track for a roughly 11-win season. So far, at least, he’s having one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen.
Trout probably won’t hit .340/.460/.755 all year while stealing 30 bases and launching 50 home runs. But the fact that the previous sentence really required a “probably” qualifier tells you all you need to know.