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Mike Trout leading majors in home runs, but is looking for more consistency at the plate

 The Associated Press  |    Apr 25th, 2024 5:23pm EDT

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout is the first player in the major leagues this season to reach 10 home runs. What the Los Angeles Angels slugger really wants is more consistency at the plate.

Trout’s solo shot during the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Baltimore marked the third time since 2018 he has been the first to reach double digits in homers. It also was the second time this season he has gone deep in multiple games.

However, the three-time AL MVP is batting .237, on pace for the lowest batting average going into May in his 14-year big league career.

That’s quite a change from the past three seasons, when Trout had a .347 average in March and April. In 2021, he his average was .425 on May 1.

“Some of the at-bats I feel really good and some of the at-bats just trying to figure some stuff out,” Trout said after Wednesday’s game. “I’m just trying to put a full game together.”

Trout was batting .306 through the Halos’ first 13 games but has struggled at the plate since. He was 8 for 48 with 14 strikeouts over the past 12 games. Half of his hits since April 13 have been home runs.

He has also gone nine straight games without having at least two hits.

“When it feels right, I barrel the ball. When it doesn’t feel right, I foul it off or get jammed a little bit,” Trout said.

The Angels have lost nine of 12 after a 7-6 start in Ron Washington’s first season as manager.

Trout joined Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield as the only players to hit at least 10 home runs in his team’s first 25 games three times. In 2018 and ’20, Trout had Shohei Ohtani hitting behind him.

Washington is continuing to juggle his lineup as he searches for the right combination in back of Trout.

Trout began the year batting third but was moved up to second after 15 games when the first and second hitters in the lineup had a combined .195 average. Trout hit leadoff after Anthony Rendon was placed on the injured list this week due to a hamstring strain.

Wednesday marked the first time since 2012 he has batted at the top of the lineup in consecutive games.

“It’s still the same approach. I don’t care where I hit. Maybe I get five more at-bats compared to the three hole,” Trout said.

Batting leadoff though has been Trout’s best spot. He is a career .321 leader in that spot, 21 points higher than his career average. He is a .296 hitter when in the second spot and .305 when batting third.

Washington said moving Trout up in the order was more about getting the rest of the offense going.

“Mike is only human, he can have off times just like everyone else,” Washington said. “I thought if I can put him up there and he can give us a swing of the bat like he did Tuesday night, I’m not looking for that every night, but he has the capability to give us a run when swinging the bat.”

Trout is trying to keep an upbeat approach, especially with a young club. Despite their recent struggles and a 10-13 mark, the Angels are only three games behind Seattle in the AL West.

If Los Angeles is going to begin making up ground though, it needs to start playing better at home. They are 3-6 at The Big A and have dropped their three home series. It is their worst start at home since 2016, also 3-6.

The Angels open a three-game series against Minnesota on Friday and host Philadelphia for a three-game set before heading back on the road.

“I think the mindset is keep coming and working, things will turn. Guys are battling, it’s just not going our way right now,” Trout said. “We’re going to be in different situations every night and we learn from it. Things will turn.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb