Friday, December 13, 2013

Diamondbacks Fans, Meet Mark Trumbo

Another interleague trade. Mark Trumbo has never played against the Diamondbacks, so he's new to Arizona fans. Here's the skinny.

What's Good About Him? Power. Trumbo was tenth in the American League in homers in 2012 with 32 and fourth last year with 34. He's been a regular the past three years, and in that time, among players with at least 1,500 plate appearances, he's tied with Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton for fifth in home runs with 95. He's gone deep once every 17.92 at bats, the 14th-highest rate. He batted in exactly 100 runs last year.  

What's Not So Good About Him? A lot of power hitters also strike out a lot (not good), walk a lot (good), and hit into a lot of double plays (not good). Trumbo did strike out a lot: Once every 4.0 plate appearances, 12th highest in the majors among players with over 1,500 plate appearances. He grounded into a double play once every 39.1 plate appearances, 27th highest in the majors. But he didn't walk all that much: Once every 16.0 plate appearances, 84th in the majors. There were 104 players who logged 1,500+ plate appearances, so he struck out and grounded into double plays more than average and walked less often than average. All those strikeouts have kept his batting average low: .251 in his three years as a regular, .234 in 2013. The lack of walks have hurt his on base percentage: .300 as a regular, .294 last year. His homers have kept given him a good slugging percentage: .473 as a regular, .453 last year. His .251/.300/.473 slash line over the past three years compares to .256/.321/.408 for the American League as a whole.

This is not to say he's not valuable. Because of his power, his OPS has been consistently above average: about 15% over the past three years, adjusted for his park. Only MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Aaron Hill, and part-time third baseman Eric Chavez topped that figure on the Diamondbacks last season.

Trumbo's not a great fielder, and his best position is first base, where he's not going to unseat Goldschmidt. He'll be a corner outfielder.

So What Should Diamondbacks Fans Expect? Despite playing in a hitters' park, Arizona had the sixth-lowest slugging percentage and tied for the fourth-fewest homers in the National League last year. Trumbo will help on both scores. The ESPN Home Run Tracker chart at right doesn't do him justice: It shows where his home runs last season would've landed at Arizona's Chase Field. But Chase Field's an easier place to hit a home run than Angel Stadium, resulting in a park index of 106 for home runs at Chase (6% more home runs hit there than in Diamondbacks games on the road) compared to 90 in Anaheim (10% fewer than in Angels road games). So presumably some of Trumbo's fly outs at Anaheim will be round-trippers in Arizona. Trumbo crushes the ball when he connects--his average home run distance of 413 feet was fifth highest in the majors last year--so 35-40 home runs (along with a lot of strikeouts) seems a reasonable expectation.

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