Front & Center: Mark Trumbo

After hitting 47 home runs in 2016 for the Baltimore Orioles, DH/OF Mark Trumbo has fallen hard back to earth in 2017. Unfortunately for many fantasy owners, an early draft selection or pretty-penny was spent on the perceived slugger this past draft season. According to NFBC ADP data (mixed leagues), Trumbo was the 17th outfielder selected, with an ADP of 74th overall – (30th overall high | 115th overall low).

Coming into the season I was completely off of the Trumbo train. Of course this could be called hindsight, but the reasons to be wary of Trumbo’s breakout season were many.

To begin, I didn’t see enough of a difference in Trumbo’s batting eye and overall plate approach that warranted a dramatic jump in production during the 2016 season. For example, in 2015, a season that saw Trumbo hit 22 home runs with a .262/.310/.449 triple slash, Trumbo’s batting eye sat at a sub-par 0.27. This was built from a 7% walk rate and a 74% contact rate.

My personal preference is to identify power hitters who display much stronger batting eyes, as a player who can discern not only balls and strikes, but also pitches that he knows can be punished, is much more likely to maintain a strong slugging approach at the plate. Some players fitting this description in 2017, include, Edwin Encarnacion (35 HR | 0.79 batting eye) & Jose Ramirez (27 HR | 0.70 batting eye).

Trumbo’s 2016 breakout was built upon a 0.30 batting eye (up just 0.03 from 2015). Trumbo’s contact ability remained sub-par at 72% and his walk rate remained ho-hum at 8% for the season.

There’s no denying that Trumbo’s underlying power metrics were strong in 2016, as evidenced by both a hard contact rate and power metrics that were above the league average rate for the season. It just so happened that the perfect storm of hard contact and identifying pitches to drive all lined up in 2016 for Trumbo.

This was my second clue to stay away during 2017 draft season. Trumbo’s HR/F (home run per fly ball hit) in 2014 and 2015 was 14%. During Trumbo’s 2016 season this rate jumped 11%, to an elite 25% HR/F. This put him in the same company as Nelson Cruz and Miguel Cabrera.

Without changing anything in his overall approach at the plate or ability to identify pitches to swing and drive, Trumbo was able to drastically alter the number of fly balls that left the park.

This season the hard contact rate and power metrics are all below league average for Trumbo. The HR/F rate has fallen back to 14%, which is identical to his 2014 and 2015 marks. The batting eye remains at 0.29, with the same contact and walk abilities in place.

Trumbo is who we thought he was. A player who hits some insanely long home runs, who we’ve always thought could have a major power season (which he did), but also a league-average type, one-trick-pony.

Unfortunately for those who spent heavily hoping for another 40+ home run season from Trumbo, he’s been unable to even fully help in the one category we had identified as “his”.

My early projection for Trumbo’s 2018 season is as follows:

564 610 138 84 25 1 28
78 76 44 1 151 2 1
1 0 0.245 0.301 0.443 0.744 0.197

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