A month ago, Angels fans were falling all over themselves in support of Mark Trumbo for the All-Star Game in New York this month. And Mark had himself a good case for being included. As the calendar turned from May to June, Trumbo had himself a pleasant looking slash line of .274/.342/.507. An .849 OPS, 9.8% walk rate and a 25% strike out rate all looked good enough to possibly get the 27 year old brute onto the roster as a reserve. and then, June happened.
As good as June was to Joe Blanton, it was just as bad for Mark Trumbo. By the end of the month, Trumbo’s slash line had dropped to .251/.321/.470. The drop in his season line was because of a June line of .200/.277/.390. Or, to draw a comparison, Trumbo hit like Will Middlebrooks has all year in June.
I probably shouldn’t be talking about this. We all remember Mark’s crazy-bad second half slump in 2012. First he had an OK June. Then an OK July. Then he was terrible in August, and likewise in September. The “jinx bells” are ringing like an alarm clock with a broken snooze button. But his June slump, may not be reason for fans to reach for slam down our hands on the panic button. I would lift the glass though, just in case.
Mark had a bad June. Yes. We have established this. He also drew 11 walks during the month in question, and at no point last year did Trumbo more than eight walks in any month. The strides that Mark has made in his on-base skills are not being compromised because hits aren’t falling in. And in June, they did not fall in. His BABIP for the season is .286, right around his career average of .291. In June, that number plummeted to .200. That’s not just low. It’s not just unsustainably low. That’s ridiculously unsustainably low.
During Mark’s prolonged slump in 2012, he still carried a BABIP of .302 during the worst of it in August and September. The problem for Mark wasn’t contact, it was a lack of contact. And striking out an incredible 43 times in August of last year should have been a clue for everyone. Mark struck out 32 times in May, but nobody complained because he still carried an OPS of .835 for the balance of the month. Thank you walks (14) and extra base hits (14). But let’s get back to balls in play.
How low is a BABIP of .200? Well, I’m glad you asked. Only three times in the expansion era (1961 – present) has a player had a BABIP of .200 and qualified for the batting title. Those seasons belong to Ted Simmons, Curt Blefary and, most recently, Aaron Hill. Three times in 52 seasons. And guess what? I have a theory.
Not only does Fangraphs offer batted ball info, they offer it in splits. Which is, just, fantastic. Trumbo’s worst LD% last season, was not in August or September, it was in June. A month where he posted an OPS of .899. He had a LD% of 11.5 that month, but was still hitting fly balls regularly, and didn’t have a massive spike in GB%. Last month, Mark Trumbo’s LD% catered. For the season, Trumbo has a LD% fo 16.6%, last month it was at 9.2%. But those line drives weren’t becoming fly balls. For the first time in Mark’s career, he posted a GB% north of 50% (56.6%). Lift! Mark Needs lift!
Trumbo’s last two weeks have been atrocious with a .163/.217/.302 slash line. His last week has been better, but is still ugly with a .235/.278/.412 slash line. He has shown in his first two seasons as a Major League regular that he does have a penchant for being streaky. And that he can completely disappear at the plate. But even though I am concerned about Mark’s June performance, I am not overly concerned. Trumbo is not dealing with a rib issue like he was in 2012, or a stress fracture in his foot like he was in 2011. Mark has simply run into some serious bad luck. Which happens. Unless this thing lasts through July. Then i will demand to know what ailment he is hiding this time.