FanPost

The New (And Improved) Mark Trumbo?

I recently argued in a thread somewhere that Trumbo has room to grow his game, both offensively and defensively. So far his defense has been up and down (he's actually looked somewhat good at times but then also really bad). He has minimal experience in LF prior to the season, so I would be open to the possibility of him improving as the season goes on.

However, the purpose of this post is to analyze his offense. And I admit, this is not what I was expecting. The first response is to shout "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!!!!!!!111" or "SSS" as loudly as possible and then run away. But hold that thought. According to Fangraphs, here is where offensive stats "stabilize:"

 50 PA: Swing %
100 PA: Contact Rate
150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
200 PA: Walk Rate, Groundball Rate, GB/FB
250 PA: Flyball Rate
300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
550 PA: ISO

Link

So, things like batted ball information (especially power) and discipline take a long time to stabilize (nearly a whole season). The article also points out that BA and BABIP do not stabilize. So we can throw out his power, average, and on-base numbers. So what can we look at? Let's look at those low factors: swing % and contact rate. Trumbo is at 40 PA now. And this is where things get interesting:

Year

O-Swing%

Z-Swing%

O-Contact%

Z-Contact%

2010

51.9%

57.1%

71.4%

68.8%

2011

41.9%

66.6%

66.0%

84.7%

2012

38.1%

64.4%

51.7%

83.0%

2013

37.1%

65.9%

55.4%

80.3%

2014

30.2%

67.9%

57.9%

80.6%

Immediately, we can see that Trumbo has been swinging at less pitches out of the zone and swinging at more pitches in the zone - the sign of a developing hitter. We can say with near confidence that Trumbo's swing% has been improving over the years and that there is a good possibility that what we've seen this season will be somewhat sustainable for the whole season. The contact% numbers have some room to vary (only 40/100 PAs), but they are consistent with his historical numbers (especially Z-Contact%). One can argue that NL pitchers don't know how to pitch to Trumbo, but his zone% (% of pitches in the strike zone) is tied for his career low at 45.7%, so he's not getting strikes to hit. He's also seen a career low in FB%, meaning pitchers are throwing him a lot of off-speed stuff.

So what does this mean? It's to early to say anything for sure. But the numbers here suggest with some strong confidence that his approach at the plate has been improving substantially and can very well be sustainable going forward. This won't mean he's going to keep hitting for power like he has been, but it's a good sign of a strong offensive season.

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