I’m a big fan of Torii Hunter. Even before he became an Angel – Hunter was someone who I admired from a far. Having played center field my whole life, I respected the man who was widely regarded as on of the games best two way center fielders. Naturally when Hunter signed as a free agent to join the Angels I was ecstatic. Hunter’s permanent move to So- Cal afforded me the opportunity to meet and talk with a player I had long admired. As most people attest to- the man was every bit as good as the ball player. Genuine – down to earth, humble the adjectives go on and on. Hunter is a true good guy who also happens to be immensely talented. Now that you have the background this next statement should carry more weight.
Torii Hunter needs to be dropped in the order. After a dismal weekend series that saw Hunter go 0-12 and personally strand 13 runners on base Hunter’s demotion in the lineup should be imminent. In all – Hunter’s latest slump has seen him go 0-18 – while failing to deliver the big hit several times over. What maybe worse is like we saw in yesterday’s ninth inning – Hunter has stopped numerous rallies dead in their tracks by hitting into the double play. For the season Torii is now hitting just .229/.313/.377 with 8 home runs. Meanwhile the Halos young slugging first basemen Mark Trumbo has been red hot during most of Hunter’s latest dry spell hitting in 7 straight games with 3 home runs an 5 RBI’s during that span. Mark Trumbo is the Angels best power hitter. He leads the club in home runs (11) is second to Howie Kendrick in SLG. (.482) and is second on the club to Hunter in RBI’S (with 29). Trumbo is 2 RBI’s shy of Torii and the club lead (31) despite hitting in the lower third of the order all year (fewer RBI chances) and having 36 fewer at bats than Hunter. These numbers make the decision more than clear. Mark Trumbo should be the Angels cleanup hitter and Torii Hunter should be moved down in the order for the time being.
I don’t subscribe to the ridiculous theories that are tossed around about how moving a young hitter up in the order can effect their psyche and ruin them forever. Baseball is baseball. If you can hit in the 7th hole you can hit in the 4 spot. We’ve seen numerous examples of talented youngsters who have been thrust into key batting order positions and never looked back. Buster Posey for the Giants last year and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals this year are two recent success stories, and there’s a who’s who among perenieal standouts ( Longoria, Garret Anderson,Pedroia, Salmon, Jeter etc.) who have succeeded before them. Trumbo may not be in the same class as any of the aforementioned players but the Angels will never find out until he gets the chance.
The time is now.