At number 12 in our countdown of fantasy relevant Angels is the displaced Mark Trumbo. Trumbo enjoyed a breakout rookie year in 2011, leading the Angels and all rookies in home runs (29) and RBI (87) and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting while filling in at first base for the injured Kendrys Morales. However, Trumbo’s season ended with a foot injury, which required surgery, and the Angels went out and signed another first baseman in Albert Pujols, making it necessary to find a new place for Trumbo in the Angels’ lineup. Due to a crowded outfield, and the returning Morales having the inside track for the DH spot, Trumbo has been tasked with learning the hot corner this spring. How well he does that, along with how his foot holds up, and whether or not he can patch some holes in his game that got exposed late last season will all have a big impact on how much of an impact Trumbo has on your fantasy team this season.
The big question facing Trumbo: can he stay on the field defensively? While an attempt to move him to third base when he was drafted failed, the outlook is much more optimistic this time around. Trumbo has improved his agility and athleticism since he was drafted, and the coaching staff is pleased with his progress this spring at third. He has struggled a bit with slow rollers down the line and has shown a lapse in footwork when he gets lazy in the field, but he’s shown enough that he should get first shake at the position for opening day. Even though he’ll be a slight defensive downgrade from incumbent third baseman Alberto Callaspo, the bonus of Trumbo’s power in the lineup makes up the difference…or at least that’s what the Angels are hoping.
While Trumbo did show great raw potential during his breakout rookie season, he also showed a severe lack of plate discipline that resulted in his poor on-base percentage (.291). As the season went on, Trumbo became even less selective, swinging freely and chasing more often than not. Trumbo swung at 21.3% of pitches that were clearly out of the strike zone, fifth worst in the majors, and that number jumped up to 26.4% after the All-Star break. In all, Trumbo swung at 40.7% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone in 2011, also fifth worst in the majors, and struggled with breaking pitches. The team has been working with Trumbo this spring on a new approach at the plate, which should help him be more selective and improve his OBP without sacrificing his power, hopefully. Trumbo has also been eagerly soaking up lessons from Pujols on how to improve his approach, so we’ll see how quickly Trumbo can learn. Trumbo’s minor-league career shows that he can post respectable to good OBPs, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it, but the potential for a sophomore slump while Trumbo processes all these lessons in the field and at the plate is very real. Projections for Trumbo seem to think he can handle it, though.
- ZiPS: .253/.295/.437, 71 R, 25 HR, 91 RBI, 6 SB, 637 PA
- Fans: .258/.303/.467, 58 R, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 4 SB, 513 PA
- Bill James: .269/.313/.493, 69 R, 28 HR, 94 RBI, 8 SB, 567 PA
The Fans projection is the least kind to Trumbo in terms of plate appearances, which cuts pretty deeply into his runs and RBI production. I think the other two projections are more in line with where Trumbo is going to produce, because I think he’s going to hold onto the job at third this season. Call me an optimist. With all the offensive depth this season, though, Trumbo will be forced down in the lineup, probably to sixth or seventh, which will take away some of his at-bats, and will put someone like Chris Iannetta or Torii Hunter behind him, which isn’t great protection for a power hitter. Expect pitchers to nibble, looking to exploit his lack of plate discipline, to try and get Trumbo to chase. However, if Trumbo’s new approach works, whatever sacrifices he makes in his slugging percentage will be made up for in his on-base percentage as we should see more walks from him this season.
The Hangout View: Trumbo’s stock is going to be high as he stands to become 1B/3B eligible, giving him some flexibility in the lineup, and his power numbers are going to be enticing. However, the possibility of a sophomore slump makes me a little leary about taking him too early, as he can’t be relied on just yet to reproduce his 2011 numbers. I wouldn’t make Trumbo your only option at 3B just yet, and would look to draft him in the middle rounds to store on my bench to see how he reacts to all that learning he did this offseason. But make sure you have a Plan B for the hot corner, though, just in case the Trumbo experiment falls flat when the games start to matter. Our optimistic projection for Trumbo:
- .265/.310/.490, 67 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB, 575 PA