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« D-Train Getting Grounders | Main | ESPN.com: A Look at Hughes' Return »
Tuesday
Aug302011

Go Low, Not High on Trumbo

While no one will mistake a first baseman sporting  a .296 on-base percentage for a great hitter, the Angels' Mark Trumbo has managed to provide some value at the plate during his rookie season by bashing pitches into the gaps and over the fence. The 25-year-old has 24 home runs and is slugging .484. Combine that power with a pretty good glove, and you have a decent, if flawed starter.

Depending upon where pitchers locate their offerings, Trumbo is either an All-Star or a scrub with the bat. He's chasing -- and killing -- high pitches, while scuffling against stuff thrown at the knees.

The righty hitter is downright giddy against high pitches, extending his strike zone all the way up to his eyes at times:

 Trumbo's swing rate by location on high pitches 

League average swing rate by location on high pitchesTrumbo is chasing 46 percent of high pitches thrown out of the strike zone, which is 20 percentage points higher than the league average. But that hacking has largely paid off, as he's sending many of those pitches into orbit:

           Trumbo's in-play slugging percentage by location vs. high pitches                      

League average in-play slugging percentage by location vs. high pitchesHe's slugging .553 versus the high stuff, besting the league average by nearly 160 points. And his .387 Weighted On-Base Average vs. high pitches is 45 points better than average. Going above the letters against Trumbo is a bad idea.

Trumbo also extends the zone versus low pitches:

Trumbo's swing rate by location vs. low pitches

League average swing rate by location vs. low pitchesHis 35 percent chase rate vs. low stuff is seven percentage points above the league average. That's where the comparison between Trumbo's performance on high and low pitches ends, though. He has been helpless when opponents go low on him:

Trumbo's in-play slugging percentage by location vs. low pitches

League average in-play slugging percentage by location vs. low pitches

Trumbo's slugging just .318 versus low pitches, well below the .338 average. With a .254 wOBA versus low stuff, he's about 40 points below average and ranks in the same territory as Alcides Escobar and Lyle Overbay. Ouch.

Despite his hacking, trying to beat Trumbo high can backfire in a big way. Pitchers should pound the rookie at the knees until he proves that he can also do some damage on low stuff.

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