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« Top Hitters with Two Strikes | Main | Missing: Beckett's Velocity »

Trumbo Showing Better Plate Approach

The L.A. Angels are mired in last place in the American League West and have the worst offensive attack this side of the Minnesota Twins. A big reason why is an overly jumpy lineup: The Angels rank dead last in the A.L. in walks, taking a free pass in just 6.7 percent of their plate appearances. Strangely enough, though, the Angels' lone offensive star so far is a reformed hacker who wasn't even supposed to be a full-time starter in 2012.

Though Mark Trumbo showed plenty of power as a rookie by belting 29 home runs, his lack of patience led to a walk rate of just 4.4 percent and a paltry .291 on-base percentage. That low OBP and the allure of adding one of the game's all-time great hitters led to Trumbo being displaced by Albert Pujols. But, while Pujols has seemingly lost his once-pristine plate approach, Trumbo has made ample progress in working the count.

In 2011, Trumbo hacked at lots of eye-high pitches. Check out his swing rate by pitch location last year, and then the league average:

Trumbo's swing rate by pitch location, 2011

Average swing rate by pitch location, 2011Trumbo chased 41 percent of pitches thrown out of the zone as a rookie, trailing just Vlad Guerrero, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Olivo and Adam Jones among all qualified MLB hitters. This year, though? He's laying off those elevator pitches:

Trumbo's swing rate by pitch location, 2012

His chase rate has dipped to 31 percent this season, not far from the 28 percent league average. As a result, Trumbo's walk rate has shot up to 9.2 percent. That patience, combined with continued power production (six homers in 98 plate appearances) and some good fortune on balls put in play has led to a 185 OPS+ for Trumbo. The next highest mark on the Angels is Kendrys Morales' 120, and the club sports a collective 93 OPS+.

Trumbo's transition across the diamond to third base didn't take, so he doesn't really have a set position at this point (he has appeared at third, first, both outfield corners and DH). But if he keeps laying off the high stuff and hammering pitches, the Angels will make sure he gets everyday ABs.

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