If you’re going to an Arizona Diamondbacks game this year, do yourself a favor and get there early. A batting practice that includes Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo could be pretty dang fun to watch.
But while a 500-foot bomb is a lot of fun, they won’t win many fantasy titles. Goldschmidt is nearly a consensus Top-5 overall player, and even that may be a little conservative. Outside of Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, Goldy may be the top guy. But what about his new running-mate, Trumbo?
- Positive: Power
Trumbo will enter 2014 with 95 career homers in 1,718 at-bats. At that pace, if Trumbo takes 500 at-bats this season (a conservative guess), he’ll get somewhere between 27-28 bombs. At 600 at-bats, it works out to about 33 bombs. Being able to comfortably project someone at 30 home runs or better is incredibly valuable, I don’t care what position he plays.
It gets better.
According to ESPN Park Factors, Trumbo’s prodigious HR power has come despite playing in a terrible park for power. Now, he’s moving to a pretty good.
Arizona vs. Anaheim: HR Factors
Anything over 1.0 benefits hitters, while anything under 1.0 benefits pitchers. Even with an extreme outlier season in Anaheim’s favor, Arizona has ranked as a much better place for power over the last five years.
That covers half of his games and while the NL (and NL West specifically) have plenty of pitcher’s parks, he’ll also get 9-10 games a year at Coors Field.
So we can definitely expect a jump in HR production from Trumbo, but how much of one?
- Negative: Defense
Remember, Mark Trumbo won’t be manning first base for the D-Backs with Paul Goldschmidt in town. Other than possibly a few interleague play games, he also won’t be spending any time at DH, as Arizona is a National League team.
No, Trumbo is looking primarily at the outfield in the desert. While Trumbo has experience in the outfield (75 games in left field, 65 in right field), he’s not a particularly good outfielder. So, what does this mean? How many fantasy leagues out there really count defense?
Well, from that perspective, it means nothing. But even with the trade of Adam Eaton, the Diamondbacks have plenty of depth in the outfield. According to MLB Depth Charts, Trumbo will start in left field while Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross will start in center and right, respectively.
But A.J. Pollock is a little better than your typical fourth outfielder and if Eric Chavez hits well, it may cause Kirk Gibson to move him to third and try to find another place for Martin Prado in the lineup.
Now, I’m not saying that Trumbo’s starting spot is really in question. But if he struggles in left and those struggles cost the D-Backs runs, he may get a few more off days than you’d expect. At the very least, you have to worry about the possibility of him losing AB’s in late innings.
Again, he’ll start, but when you factor in the defensive element, it’s not hard to see Trumbo falling well short of 600 at-bats.
- Unclear: Batting Average
Trumbo’s a career .250 hitter so if you’re drafting him, you’re obviously not expecting much in this department. But, are you getting a .250 hitter, a .254 hitter (2012), a .268 hitter (2012), or a .234 hitter (2013). The former three you can deal with. The latter one is awfully hard to deal with.
– A reason to be positive about his average:
While park factors don’t tend to reflect on individual hitters averages as much, the HR factors do come into play here. Trumbo is a power hitter and he knows he’s not up there to hit behind the runner, or try to find a hole between the third baseman and shortstop.
In a place like Anaheim, you have to hit the ball harder to get it out, so he may have been swinging a bit harder with more lift. That would explain why his career line drive rate (per Fangraphs) is a rather dismal 16.4%.
In Arizona, he won’t need to hit it quite as hard, so he may dial back the swing, not strike out as much and in turn, hit more line drives. On paper, it makes perfect sense.
– A reason to be negative about his average:
Games aren’t played on paper, they’re played on the field.
While that all makes sense in theory, Anaheim hasn’t been what’s killed his average throughout his career. Trumbo’s average in Anaheim is .258, above his career mark. On the road, it’s .242, much closer to what he did in 2013.
The AL West has plenty of good pitchers, but he’s now entering a division with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, so he’s getting no bargains in terms of competition — especially if guys like Andrew Cashner stay strong, and the likes of Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, and Dan Haren find more of their old forms.
- Overall Feelings
Let’s have a look at the numbers that Crackerjack Contributor, Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball has projected for Mark Trumbo in 2014.
Mark Trumbo: 2014 Projections
As I said above, I think that’s an optimistic AB total. That said, I think he’ll hit more than 33 homers, even in fewer than 594 at-bats. The rest of the numbers seem pretty accurate.
If you draft Trumbo, be sure that you can absorb a sub-.240 average, because it’s a real possibility. Then again, 40 homers is also a real possibility, and that’s a hard thing to pass on.