- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

There Ain’t No Time To Stash the Trumbo

Either I do way too many mock drafts and have personally skewed the ADP numbers everywhere or the word is out. Mark Trumbo is a hot commodity this season. Though his positioning found here in our “consensus rankings” at both first base and in the outfield  doesn’t exactly scream, “You want Mark Trumbo,” I firmly believe that you do.

I know, I know. I said the same thing last season about Jason Heyward and he turned into a big bust thanks to a lost battle with the injury bug, but hey…I also said it about Adam Jones the year before and look who’s a first-round draft choice two years after the big breakout was called by yours truly. However, I’m not saying it in the same way, though I do feel equally passionate. But how do you tell someone they want a two-time 30-home run hitter because you expect him to push past the 40-homer barrier this season? That’s like telling you to not eat a piece of delicious chocolate fudge cake because the one next to it has more fudge. It’s not that I’m saying that Trumbo is going to have some crazy, big breakout this season like Jones did back in 2012, but I am saying that the move to Arizona, coupled with his growth in other areas, leads me to believe that he still has more to offer his fantasy owners.

There are a number of indicators which point towards Trumbo having an even bigger year here in 2014 and obviously it starts with the new home park. Chase Field is much more hitter/homer-friendly than Angel Stadium and actually has a home run park factor for right-handed hitters that’s roughly eight-percent higher. Couple that with a steady rise in his HR/FB and another big increase in doubles and we should be looking at a breach of the 40-home run barrier.

Now many dissenters are going to come at you with his strikeout increase and low batting average, but if you actually delve deeper into the numbers, there are a lot more improvements to be found. He’s always going to have a strikeout total higher than you’d like and he’s never going to hit .280 for the year. That’s a detractor for most big home run hitters these days. But his walk rate has improved in each of his last three years as has his batting eye. The improvements might not be ginormous, but a steadily improving BB/K is a good thing. With a line drive rate that keeps getting better, stronger plate discipline and maybe a little help from the luck dragons of the BABIP universe, he can hold that average in the .260 range which, for a guy who’s going to mash you 40-bombs, is pretty damn good.

And how about that stronger plate discipline? We’ve conceded the strikeouts and acknowledged the improved walk rate, but how about the steadily improving swing rates? Slowly but surely he’s improved his pitch selection over the last three seasons. He’s swinging at fewer pitches and, more importantly he’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone each year. I tried to look to see if the pitch mix is substantially different moving from the AL to the NL, but the numbers tell me they’re pretty much the same. There were fewer changeups and more sinkers thrown in the NL last season, something that, believe it or not, favors Trumbo, but the difference isn’t enough to base anything on; especially with all the crossover movement of free agent pitchers these days. But the bottom line is that, after three seasons, he’s doing what he can to be a better hitter.

Now I’m not sure why Eno and the Gang (stop right now…I already called dibs on that for my new band name) aren’t showing my man Trumbo any love in the FanGraphs rankings. Perhaps they’re weighting the strikeouts and batting average too much or maybe they just don’t believe in some of the indicators I’ve mentioned. But many others are drinking the Kool-Aid too so acquiring Trumbo and his power looks like it’s going to cost you a fourth or fifth round pick. In fact, in the NFBC, his ADP has gone up 10.2-percent over the last month and it’s even higher on Mock Draft Central, so the “secret” is out.

Dual-position eligibility? 40 bombs? Hitter-friendly park? Improved work at the plate? Gimme! Considering who else is going in the fourth round, I’ll gladly grab me some Trumbo…who rattles around the cage; the batting cage, that is. Oh yeah.