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Mark Trumbo: Fantasy AL Hare

As Eno laid it out for you yesterday, this week is dedicated to handing out some of RotoGraphs most coveted and dubious fantasy awards. For this installment we’re going to look at the American League Fantasy Hare, an honor bestowed to the AL player who came out of the gate white-hot, was a fantastic sell-high candidate, and then fizzled out in the second half. Those who sold him we’re obviously overjoyed while those who paid the steep price to own him in the second half, were left banging their heads against a wall. The title of the post gives away the winner, but let’s look a littler deeper into it and who else Mark Trumbo edged out for the honors.

For the record, there were 17 of us who voted on these awards and in this category, there were four players who received votes. Officially, it looked like this with the number of votes received in parentheses:

Mark Trumbo  (7)
Josh Hamilton  (4)
Jason Kipnis  (3)
Jose Bautista  (3)

While Trumbo’s selection here wasn’t unanimous, it’s pretty easy to see why he was the most common choice. The season started as most expected, with Trumbo in a platoon situation, but come May, he absolutely exploded on AL pitching and earned himself a full-time gig after batting .367 with seven home runs and 17 RBI for the month. Though his average came back to Earth in June, he continued to hit for power and by then end of the first half, Trumbo headed into the All Star break batting .306 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI.

His 21-percent strikeout rate was on par with his numbers from the season before, but both his isolated power and on-base percentage numbers had a strong increase. While those increases may have seemed a bit over the top, his sophomore season looked very similar to what he did during his 2010 in Triple-A. His wOBA was never lower than .368 for any of the first three months and Trumbo looked like one of the best draft bargains around.

He maintained his power levels through most of July, but when the calendar flipped to August, Trumbo’s power switch flipped off. The final two months of the season were an absolute disaster and when the season closed, Trumbo’s second half finished with a .227 average with just 10 home runs and 38 RBI. His strikeout rate jumped to 32.6-percent while all of his rate stats from ISO to OPS dropped significantly. For as many fantasy teams that he helped in the first half, he helped destroy just as many with his second half decline. And for that, he gets the AL Hare award here.

But Trumbo certainly wasn’t alone, obviously. Josh Hamilton received four votes after posting a line of .308-27-75 in the first half, only to follow it up with a .259-16-53 in the second. Meanwhile, Jose Bautista garnered three votes with 27 home runs and 65 RBI before the All Star break but turned in goose eggs the rest of the way due to a broken wrist. And then, of course, there was Jason Kipnis who received my vote after he hit .277 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI and 20 stolen bases during the first half but went into the tank for the second and only hit .233 with three home runs, 27 RBI and 11 steals.

Personally, it was Hamilton’s respectable second half RBI total that kept me from voting for him and I couldn’t, with good conscience, label Bautista a hare because of his injury. That left it down to Trumbo and Kipnis for me with the edge going to Kipnis because of his position. Power at first base and the outfield is fairly easy replace when trading a player like Trumbo, but the power/speed combo that Kipnis displayed was, in my eyes, irreplaceable in a mid-season deal. That kept me and numerous others from actually selling him at his highest value, only to be burned with a second half that made even the slowest or tortoises look fast.