Who'd you Rather: Josh Willingham or Mark Trumbo?

At a glance, Josh Willingham and Mark Trumbo would appear to be similar players. If they come up with men on base, they can easily put up a crooked number against your team with one swing of the bat, and do so in spectacular fashion. Another similarity is that if they don’t hit the long ball, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be heading back to the bench with a K to their name.

Take a look at what these guys have done on average over the last two seasons.

Willingham 77 32 104 7 .253 146
Trumbo 66 30 91 6 .261 136

There are a few gaps there, but it’s not hard to see why we have these two ranked pretty close in our Draft Kit. Trumbo is the 28th ranked outfielder, while Willingham comes in at 32. In the Top 251, Trumbo is 94, while Willingham is 104. Our projections for each are more of the same.

Willingham 80 32 90 2 .261
Trumbo 69 32 89 4 .260

They look pretty similar, but if I could only have one for 2013, who would I be?

Where Willingham’s better

Some do, but standard leagues don’t count OBP. Still, Willingham is far better there. Over the last two years, his OBP is .350, while Trumbo’s is .305. That’s a huge gap, especially when the slight batting average advantage goes to Trumbo. Even if your league doesn’t count OBP or walks, that does matter.

It’s pretty simple, but what’s the first thing that needs to happen if you’re going to score a run in a baseball game? Well, you need to get on base. So, while their numbers are pretty similar across the board, Willingham has averaged 11 runs per year more than Trumbo has over the last two seasons. How much of a difference that can make depends on your league. In the two roto leagues I was in last year, 11 runs meant much different things. But know that it could conceivably be about two points.

The RBI gap can be more attributed to chances. Their home run totals and batting averages are similar, as are their slugging percentages (Willingham – .501, Trumbo – .484). I’d venture a guess that with Trumbo hitting behind the likes of Mike Trout for a full season, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, he’ll close that gap this year, although Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau aren’t slouches.

But while Trumbo did improve his OBP in 2012 (.291 to .317), he’s still well below average in that category. That’s really going to hurt is runs scored in comparison to Willingham. Certainly, more leagues are counting stats like walks or OBP and if you’re in a league like that, Willingham is a lot better in those areas. Trumbo needs to close the gap elsewhere to be as valuable.


Where Trumbo’s better

Trumbo’s younger, significantly younger. While I know that I said this is a comparison for 2013 and not a keeper league, that is a factor. It’s a factor because Willingham has never been a model of durability. In 2012, his age 33 season, he played 145 games, his career high. That’s not exactly something that gets better with age.

To be fair, Trumbo himself has never played 150 games in a season, but with the exception of being a 2010 September call-up, he’s only had two chances. He’s also never played fewer than 144 games, a number Willingham has only hit twice. When one player is 34 with a history of missing time, it’s hard to give him the nod over a 27-year-old who doesn’t have the same problems.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

Trumbo also has better teammates. While he won’t get the benefit of being driven in by Pujols or Hamilton, the Angels lineup is a lot better top to bottom than the Twins.

The other advantage Trumbo has is position eligibility. Willingham is just an outfielder (left field if your league does individual positions), while Tumbo is an outfielder (both corner positions) and first baseman, and could possibly pick up eligibility at third, as he played eight games there in 2012. To be fair, first isn’t really a position that needs much depth and third isn’t as shallow as some people seem to think, but being able to play a few extra positions is always an edge.



Who’d you rather

There’s not much separating these guys, When we were ranking these guys, it was really hard to find any separation. It wasn’t random by any means, but the 10-spot difference in their overall ranking isn’t than monumental, which it is between our No. 1 (Ryan Braun) and No. 11 (Giancarlo Stanton). The difference between 94 and 104 can easily be shaken up if literally a few swings of the bat go different than we expect.

With that, I am going to go off of the Draft Kit a little and go with Willingham.

Trumbo’s struggles at the end of 2012 really concern me, as he had an AVG./OBP of .204/.264 in August, and .214/.233 in September/October, after a solid first four months. That tells me that the league figured something out about him and he couldn’t really adjust back. That’s a concern, especially if we’re looking at one year.

Would you want to know what else worries me? Over the last two years, Trumbo has played in 293 games while Willingham has played in 281.

Now, six games per season isn’t a massive difference, but you’d think that that would give Trumbo an edge in the counted stats, wouldn’t you? Well, Willingham was better in every single counted stat. He did strike out a few more times, but that means very little when he’s better everywhere else, even if your league counts strikeouts against.

Ultimately, I do think Trumbo will become a bit more well rounded and he certainly has prodigious power right now, but I trust Willingham more in 2013.

Tags: Josh Willingham Los Angeles Angels Mark Trumbo MInnesota Twins Who'd You Rather

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