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The Angels Are Defying the Strikeout Trends

While perusing through the newly introduced +Stats section released recently by FanGraphs, I couldn’t help but notice at the time that three Los Angeles Angels players held the top three spots for the lowest K%+ for 2019 thus far among qualified hitters, with an additional two Angels players joining them to round out the top 30. The first two players were David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella; these two players are roughly average hitters at best, but they have each run a far-below-average K% thus far in their professional careers, so seeing them at the top here isn’t too shocking in a small sample size. The third was of course Mike Trout, who has decided he doesn’t feel like striking out anymore while still maintaining his incredible hitting prowess. Out of all position players that have been qualified hitters in both 2019 and 2018, only Matt Chapman has lowered his K%+ by more in absolute terms (Chapman’s -67 to Trout’s -62), and nobody has lowered their K%+ in percentage terms more than Trout has, as detailed in the chart below:

Overall, no other team in baseball has more than two players in the top 30 of this K%+ measure, and by simple deduction, a handful of teams have not had one single player within that cutoff. Devan Fink has also written about how the Angels are not striking out in 2019, but I was curious to see how their players are stacking up with other recent seasons, so I set the parameters to include all qualified seasons from this decade, and the results were surprising.

Although this is in just a small sample size as mentioned earlier, it’s still noteworthy that those three players make up three of the top four qualified seasons since the beginning of this decade. I’ve also highlighted Andrelton Simmons‘ 2018 season, which was also another top-10 placing for the Angels. Although Simmons doesn’t appear in this chart for his 2019 season, he wasn’t far off with his K%+ of 46, ranking 12th for the season. With all of these Angels players posting such low K%+ figures, it had me even more curious as to how they stack up as a team historically, and whether this is an intentional approach they’re implementing. Read the rest of this entry »