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Angels Manager Mike Scioscia disagrees that Mike Trout is average defender

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia disagrees that Mike Trout is average defender
Angels center fielder Mike Trout hits the wall after making a catch for the second out in the sixth inning against the Rangers at Angel Stadium on Sept. 5. (Victor Decolongon / Getty Images)

Mike Trout raced 110 feet into the left-center field gap to catch Rougned Odor's drive in the sixth inning Saturday night, the most ground the Angels center fielder has covered to catch a fly ball this season, according to Statcast.

It was one of many catches — some lunging, some diving — Trout has made after long runs this season, plays that, combined with the spectacular home run-robbing grabs he's made over the years, have fueled his reputation as one of the game's best defensive center fielders.

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But some advanced defensive metrics rate Trout as average, in part because he doesn't always get the best jumps or run the most efficient routes, an assertion that baffles and bothers Angels Manager Mike Scioscia.

"We have overhead [cameras] that read jumps, and he's off incredibly quick," Scioscia said. "From a scouting perspective, there's no question this guy is one of the best center fielders in our game. The ground he covers is unbelievable."

According to Fangraphs, Trout entered Sunday with 3.0 defensive runs saved, 10th among 22 qualifying major league center fielders. His ultimate zone rating of -1.2 and overall defensive rating of 0.7 ranked 13th.

UZR quantifies how many runs a player saved or gave up through his fielding prowess. The overall rating measures a player's defensive value relative to league average.

"The whole notion of using technology to quantify what we see is really good … but I want to know what the technology is, and if it's accurate, what's going on?" said Scioscia, who is skeptical of newer defensive statistics.

"I can show you our overhead of that catch [Saturday] night. The ball is just coming out of his swing, and you see Mike cross over [for his first step]. You can't tell me he gets bad jumps."

Pocket aces

The degree of difficulty on this nine-game homestand will jump considerably Monday night for the Angels, who will face Cy Young Award contenders Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the first two games against the Dodgers.

Scioscia said the two compare favorably to baseball's best one-two pitching punches, including Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana, Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela and Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

"These guys stack up with anyone," Scioscia said. "What they've done is remarkable. They're as good a one-two tandem as there has been. The rotation is the heartbeat of your club, and those guys are two of the best starters in baseball."

Milestone victory

Sunday's win was the 1,400th of Scioscia's career, moving him into 27th on baseball's all-time list. He is the 10th manager to accomplish the feat with one team.

"I think it speaks much more to the organization than anything I've done," said Scioscia, in his 16th year with the Angels. "We've had good players and good teams. These guys have played hard, so we've been able to be here for a while and get some wins."

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