ANAHEIM -- The surprising thing about Mike Trout's historic rookie season isn't necessarily what he's doing, but when. Anyone who saw Trout torch through the Minor Leagues knew he had the skill set to someday be a star in the big leagues. Maybe not during his age-21 season, per se, but someday. If there's one thing that does come as a surprise, though, it's the frequency with which he's driving balls over fences. In 1,117 career at-bats in the Minor Leagues, Trout totaled all of 23 home runs.
In 376 of them in the Majors this season -- heading into Tuesday's game against the Indians -- Trout already has 21. The reason, Trout said, has everything to do with his batting stance. Shortly after his April 28 callup, the Angels' center fielder toyed with standing more upright in the batter's box. He'd do it a little one day, feel comfortable with it, and do a little more in a week or so, until getting to a point now where he's more upright in the batter's box than he ever had been. It's allowed him to get more extension with his hands, have a better feel for the strike zone and, ultimately, go deep. "I tried it in BP one time and just liked the way the ball was coming off my bat, getting better spin coming off the bat and just catching it more up front instead of more deep," said Trout, whose home run total ranks 17th in the American League, while his batting average (.340), stolen bases (37), runs scored (89) and offensive wins above replacement (6.2) all rank first. "Every game, I just got higher and higher. It wasn't one time where I said, 'Hey, I'm going to do this.' I mentioned it to [hitting coach Jim Eppard], we just talked about it a little bit, and it worked. I was seeing the ball longer, getting a [better feel] the strike zone, and it just worked out." And because of that, Trout has evolved into a true five-tool player -- one who's as fast as anyone in baseball, is capable of making head-turning catches in center field, boasts a strong arm, can win a batting title and, now, is a legitimate home run threat. But Trout doesn't believe his newfound power will change his approach at the plate. "I'm still getting my singles and working gap to gap," he said. "I'm just getting more pop now."