June 11, 2012
Trumbo, the New Pujols?
Trumbo swings at too many pitches but, in his defense, he can handle almost anything he can reach, viz: the Felix Hernandez two-seamer, six inches low and inside, that he hit 472 feet, the Brian Duensing fastball at the letters that he hit 457 feet, etc. But he acknowledges his lack of plate discipline is a challenge. "I don't think I was blessed with the greatest eye," he told a reporter earlier this year. "Some guys have a better sense. It's something I'm really having to work on, but it's hard to do." If it is a skill that can be learned in one's late 20s, Trumbo's upside starts to look like Paul Konerko, but all PECOTA sees is Jonny Gomes.
Apparently, Trumbo was not offering us lip service in that quote; he has been working hard on things, and his line score is the one Angels fans had hoped to see from new free agent slugger Albert Pujols. While Pujols has had his struggles in 2012, Trumbo enters Monday with a robust .321/.369/.599 slash line in 203 plate appearances.
How has a player whom most mocked as a free-swinging one-trick pony become one of the more valuable fantasy assets in 2012?
The most striking part of Trumbo’s evolution is his unintentional walk rate. The league average for that metric is eight percent, and Trumbo was at just 3.3 percent last season, taking just 19 unintentional walks in 573 plate appearances. His teammate, Vernon Wells, had 20 unintentional walks in 505 plate appearances last season, and only Vladimir Guerrero was worse with 14 walks in 562 plate appearances last season. Trumbo has more than doubled that rate in 2012, all the way up to 7.2 percent.
The increased plate patience has not helped his contact rate, though, as he is striking out a tad more than he did last season—a jump from 20.9 to 22.1 percent. According to StatCorner, his strikeout looking rate has dropped from 3.1 percent to 1.9 percent, but his swinging strikeout rate has spiked from 17.8 percent to 20.2 percent. He is swinging at three percent fewer pitches this season but is also swinging and missing four percentage points higher than he did last season.