Mike Trout is having a historic season this year.The Los Angeles Angels kept pace in the AL Wild Card race with an 11-3 rout of the Texas Rangers Tuesday night and are now just three games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second Wild Card spot.
But the road is arguably much tougher for the Angels, who have eight games left against teams with winning records, compared to three for the Orioles.
The Rangers held onto their three-game lead in the AL West despite the loss as the Oakland Athletics lost in Detroit on Tuesday night. Texas has been in first place for all but two days this season.
The Amazing Trout
Need any more evidence that Trout is having a historical season?
Trout has 10.3 Wins Above Replacement this season, tied for the 25th-best single-season total in MLB history. Only 14 other position players have posted a WAR that high, and all but one of them is in the Hall of Fame (Barry Bonds).
The last position player to have at least 10 WAR in a single season was Barry Bonds in 2004 and the last centerfielder to do it was Willie Mays in 1964.
His 10.3 WAR are the most by any position player in his age 20 season or younger (age as of June 30). The only pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have a 10-WAR season was Dwight Gooden, who posted 11.9 WAR in 1985.
On the mound
C.J. Wilson has been unbeatable in September (2-0, 2.55 ERA) but has struggled against his former team, the Rangers, this season. He is winless with a 7.27 ERA in four starts against them, his second-worst ERA vs any team in 2012 (7.36 vs Red Sox).
The Rangers have crushed his four-seam fastball and cutter, hitting .380 and slugging .560 in 50 at-bats ending in those two pitches this season. He has held the rest of the league to a .242 batting average against his cutter and fastball.
Derek Holland hasn’t had much success against the Angels this year, with 12 earned runs and five homers allowed in just 13⅓ innings over two starts. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout have each took him deep twice this season.
Derek Holland Since Coming off DL
However, Holland is undefeated in his last seven starts with a 2.98 ERA in that span and has thrown a quality start in each of his last five outings.
One key to his unbeaten streak has been his ability to get righties out, who are hitting just .190 against him in those seven starts. In his first six starts after coming off the DL they tagged him for a .263 average.
He has increased his frequency of pitches on the outer third of the plate to righties in his last seven outings and that strategy has paid off for him. He’s held right-handed batters to a .154 average in at-bats ending in pitches away in his last seven starts, nearly 100 points lower than in his first six post-DL starts.