Anatomy of a slump – Trumbo is back to swinging at everything


May and June were a couple of great months, weren’t they? Everything was clicking. Albert Pujols had finally found his stroke and was starting to look like the player the Angels expected when they inked him to a contract that sets his children’s children’s children for life. Mike Trout was finally placed at the top of the order for good and has since turned the faces of major league pitchers into his own personal dance hall. The biggest surprise for me though was Mark Trumbo. He showed crazy home run power last year, there was just one tiny problem. There was not a single pitch that he did not like.

The casual fun loved the shiny counting stats he put up in his rookie season, they thought he was a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year for sure, unless you are more than just a casual fan. The in-depth fan saw his OBP (.291) and cringed, saw his slugging (.477) and winced. These were not numbers that were going to translate well into continued major league success. Something tells me that Jerry Dipoto recognized that as well, and possibly played into his pursuit of Pujols during the offseason.

But then something happened during the offseason. Maybe it was the reading material that Trumbo was taking in, because in interviews this spring he would allude to knowing what it was that he needed to work on and that he was going to be proactive about it. But plate discipline is not something you can actually learn. You have to change the way you have always approached hitting to develop discipline, and Mark seemingly had. He put up an April slash line of .304/.373/.543. Not a bad start. Then he went bananas in May with a .367/.407/.670 line. This was no joke, he was doing something that we do not see very often, he was developing plate discipline.

June came and everything took a dip and his line came to .260/.313/.587, but he was still crushing the ball (9 HR, 27 RBI). If there is one thing I can deal with from a power hitter, it’s a low batting average. As long as his slugging and OBP stay up, I can deal with a low batting average. Come July his line stays similar to June (.269/.327/.538), but the power has started drop. I wasn’t the only one to notice, but we just figured “he’s gotta slump eventually, right?” Now we are into August, and oh boy, two weeks into this month and things don’t look pretty. .178/.245/.311. I’ll just let you look at that line for a minute.

Ready to move on? Ok, let’s continue.

That’s bad, really bad. And if you’re thinking “C’mon man, that a seriously small sample size. Two weeks? Really? you’re cherry picking.” OK, how about the last four weeks then, .205/.271/.307. He’s 18-88 during the last four week stretch. I say again, bad, really bad.

Last night while I was listening to the broadcast, Mark Langston said that, to him, Trumbo has gotten away from driving the ball to right field. So I decided to do some digging.

So Langston was kind of right. Mark is definitely not driving the ball to right like he was earlier in the year. Usually that means a player is jumping at pitches that are not in a good hitting zone. Below shows the pitches Mark has been swinging at.

Seriously, what is that green dot way down on the bottom right hand corner of the bottom chart? That honestly looks like two different hitters doesn’t it? It looks like Mark is back to swinging at anything and everything again. Sorry Mark, Vladimir Guerrero you are not.

Mark taught himself plate discipline, and we saw the fruits of that hard work for the first few months of the season. He needs to get back to doing that because as long as pitchers know that they can throw anything up there and get him to chase it, they are going to. His big bat is very important to this team’s success. I mean, it’s not like we can send him to the bullpen right?