Mark Trumbo Turning Patience Into Power

Mark Trumbo has put the Angels offense on his back this year. His walk-off home run in last night’s game against the Yankees pushed his total for the season to eight and his wRC+ of 172 sits sixth in the league, trailing just Paul Konerko, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, David Wright and Carlos Ruiz. Most notably, Trumbo brings an OBP of .388 into Tuesday’s action just one year after posting a .291 mark. The jokes were easy — Trumbo never saw a pitch he didn’t like, and indeed his 52.9% swing rate was among the tops in the majors.

This year, Trumbo has developed his eye, and his ability to recognize the strike zone is paying off not only with walks but with big-time power as well.

Observe, Trumbo’s swing rates in and out of the strike zone for 2011 and 2012 (from the catcher’s perspective):

Trumbo’s overall swing rate has dropped from 52.9% to 48.5%, largely from laying off pitches above the strike zone or those well inside off the plate. He still attacks pitches on the inner third of the plate and up in the strike zone, but he hasn’t been enticed by pitchers nibbling at those areas this season. Chances are this trend will stick for Trumbo — swing percentage is the very first statistic to stabilize of any we publish here. It’s a natural concept — there’s very little interaction between pitcher and hitter with swing percentage, merely the hitter deciding whether or not to pull the trigger.

This change has allowed Trumbo to focus his swings on pitches he regularly drives. Observe, Trumbo’s in-play ISO in the various areas of the strike zone:

Trumbo’s best asset is his tremendous pull power, as he showed with last night’s walk-off blast. He is slugging 1.058 on hits to pull and has deposited all eight of his home runs over the left field fence. By focusing his swings on the inner half of the plate, Trumbo is able to get more out of each swing.

At the same time, this graphic shows why it was so appealing for Trumbo to hack at pitches off the inside corner or well above the letters — when he does put them in play, they go. But with a contact rate nearly 20 percentage points higher inside the strike zone, it’s well worth the sacrifice to let a few go, take a few more walks, and wait for pitches in the zone to hack. Through patience, Trumbo increases his ability to reach base and avoid strikeouts all while maintaining his power.

Inevitably, Trumbo’s .390 BABIP will come back to earth and he won’t remain a top-10 hitter in the game. But Trumbo has made tangible changes to his approach in his second year in the big leagues, allowing him to grow beyond the power-first, walks-never player we saw last season. Simply by understanding his limits and adapting to them, Trumbo has managed to harness his power in a bigger and better way, improving himself as an all-around hitter in the process.



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Boo yah Grandma!
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Boo yah Grandma!
4 years 21 hours ago

Trumboner!

Angelsjunky
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Angelsjunky
4 years 20 hours ago

It is hard to imagine Trumbo hitting better than .270ish. If anything I’m surprised that he “only” has 8 HR; I wouldn’t be surprised to see his HR increase as his batting average drops, so that he ends up around .270/.330/.550 with 35 HR.

Trumboner indeed.

Paul
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Paul
4 years 20 hours ago

Great analysis. This should be the model for looking into approach changes – or lack of changes to league pitching approaches against him. I would love to see this exact analysis for Eric Hosmer, a guy on the other end of the spectrum who is still as hacktastic 1/3 of the way in as he was at the start of the season. Good for Trumbo on the whole learning thing.

Ryan
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Ryan
4 years 19 hours ago

Awesome graphs.

Romogenized Melk
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Romogenized Melk
4 years 18 hours ago

That’s what this site should be called.

Snoth
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Snoth
4 years 18 hours ago

So the left side in these graphics is actually the inside part of the plate for him as a right handed hitter? I was confused by this

yo-yo
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yo-yo
4 years 17 hours ago

I was gonna ask the same question. When I first looked at the Charts without reading I was thinking perhaps like Luke Scott he liked the ball more out to the outside corner so he could get his arms extended. Could someone with knowledge explain exactly how these graphs should be read.

rdj3video
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rdj3video
4 years 8 hours ago

Saw Trumbo go yard in person on Monday and Tuesday. He probably has one left for Nova on Wednesday as my Yankees continue to be clueless in Anaheim since 2005 (11-25). Trumbo is in my Napoli/Quentin group of guys who when they hit it, it lands far far away. Nice article/graphs. Good to see the numbers prove he’s learning and someone is clever enough to point this out in an article. I recall watching him in Class A ball many years ago. I understand regression of the BA, but he just seems like somebody who will bust his butt to get better so his game shouldn’t just drop off the map. It’s funny to see Mike Scioscia, who sometimes takes some time before seeing the light, now comfortably playing Trumbo almost everyday because he’s getting the job done. Despite not being a defensive whiz, Trumbo appears to be willing to try whatever position is thrown his way.

Mrman
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Mrman
3 years 11 months ago

As a Rangers fan, I can honestly say Trumbo looks scary. Last year he looked like the quintessential big / no patience guy who, other than big bombs, didn’t really scare you at the plate.

Now he looks like a much more complete hitter and this article and these graphs very able illustrates it’s not just my perception.

The combination of Trumbo and Trout (and Bourjos, to a lesser extent) has to be promising to Angels fans. It’s borderline criminal that Scoscia insisted on playing Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu ahead of these guys.

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