Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have been linked for more than a decade, largely through the hype surrounding them as prospects, Harper appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16 with the headline “Chosen One.” Trout draws comparisons to Mickey Mantle before he was first-round selected in 2009.
Both were finally called up to the major leagues on April 28, 2012, and both won rookie-of-the-year honors that season, Trout with the Angels and Harper with the Washington Nationals.
The star outfielders have faced each other in eight games in their stellar MLB careers, during a three-game streak in Washington in 2014, a two-game streak in Anaheim in 2017 and last weekend’s series.
Trout got the best of Harper in their much-hyped first matchup, going five to 14 with a double, an RBI and three runs while the Angels won two of three in Washington 2014. Harper went one on eleven with three strikeouts in the streak.
Their second meeting was a push, teams splitting the 2017 series, with Trout hitting a homer and Harper going four-for-four with a homer as the Angels won the opener, and Harper sat out Washington’s win in the second game.
The third round was not a competition. Harper went four for 10 with three homers and eight RBIs to lead the Phillies to a three-game weekend sweep at Citizens Bank Park, hitting two homers in Friday night’s 10-0 win and a scoreless grand slam in the eighth Sunday’s inning hit 9-7 deficit win.
Trout, who played every game in front of a large contingent of fans from his hometown of Millville, NJ, went 0-11 with four strikeouts and a walk in the series, extending the worst slump of his 11-year career.
The American League’s three-times most valuable player is unbeaten in 26 at-bats with nine strikeouts and two walks in his last seven games, the longest drought of his career.
The Angels have lost 11 straight games and Trout was unable to get his club out of his funk, hitting .095 (four for 42) with a .364 on base plus slugging percentage, one homer, one Double, two RBI, 16 strikeouts and two walks during the skid.
“I think everyone goes through stretches like that,” Harper, the reigning National League MVP, said of Trout. “I’ve done it in my career. He’s one of the best of all time. Everyone knows how good he is.
“He’s going to get out of there and at the end of the year no one will even think about this track he’s at. He’ll be the same Mike Trout hitting .300 on 40 home runs.”
Prior to last week, on May 11-18, 2018, Trout had 21 at-bat stretch with 21 shots without a hit. Trout broke out of that slump in a big way, hitting .458 (11 for 24) with five homers, nine RBIs and 11 carries, 11 walks and five strikeouts in eight games after ripping the skid.
A similar trout breakout would be a relief for the reeling Angels, who open a four-game series against the resurgent Boston Red Sox Monday night in Anaheim and host the NL East-leading New York Mets in a three-game series starting Friday night . However, Trout was unable to make such a prediction.
“It’s baseball,” Trout said after Sunday’s loss. “You will go through good times and bad, and now is a bad time.”
Timing is at the root of most Trout break-ins. The key for the racquet has always been to put its front foot down in time to start its wild swing.
Trout seemed locked in the first month of the season, hitting .344 with 1.247 OPS, six home runs and 11 RBIs in his first 19 games, but that timing has fluctuated over the past five weeks, his season average falling by . 274 and his OPS to .953.
The result: Trout goes into Monday night’s game with a 28.6% touch rate, up from his career average of 20.7%, and a pursuit rate of 19.2%, similar to his career average of 19.5%, according to Baseball Savant. but higher than its chase of 17.6% in 2021 and 14.4% in 2020.
His strike rate of 26.8% is higher than his career average of 21.7%. His 12.4% walk rate is below his career average of 15.2%.”
“For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to be on time,” Trout said. “I’m a little late. I try to get in a good batting position. This is baseball. I am going to find that out.”
The sooner the better for the Angels, who need more consistent performance from their best player if they are to salvage their suddenly declining season.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-06-06/mike-trout-vs-bryce-harper-no-contest-angels-phillies Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper: Round Three was no contest