Mark Trumbo will get deserved criticism for having a sub-par season. His power numbers fell off big time from his 2016 season. In a recent interview, Trumbo took the time to analyze his own season and look at some other aspects from his second season with the Orioles.
Trumbo hit .256/.316/.533 last year with 27 doubles, a triple, 47 homers, 108 RBIs and an OPS of .850. He led the majors in homers. At the outset of free agency after the 2016 season, he declined a qualifying offer and hit free agency. He didn’t attract the dollars some projected he would get and in January he re-signed with the Orioles, getting a three-year deal worth $37.5 million.
In the first season of the new deal, he has hit .235/.289/.399 with 22 doubles, 23 homers, 65 RBIs and an OPS of .688.
Before the Orioles hit the road, I asked Trumbo to size up his season and why the power fell off.
“Not my favorite,” he said of the season. “I feel like I was unable to really get any kind of momentum going. Few small stretches. Just couldn’t really synch the swing up. That not only doesn’t allow you to put together some hot stretches, you are constantly missing your pitches and buried in the count.
“I felt like just way too often this year I’d get something to work with and foul it off. Usually that is where the at-bats go south. If you miss your pitch. You never want to chase pitches, but what I really did a good job with last year was when I got a mistake I did something with it. This year not quite as good.
“So, got some ideas about how I want to attack the offseason. I know physically, bat speed and everything feels fine so it’s a matter of shoring up a few things that weren’t as good this year.”
Trumbo said his tendency when he struggles is to just try and get a single. But he also said that doesn’t always work for him.
“Sometimes when you are missing your pitch you try to get shorter (with your swing),” he said. “It is hard to explain, other than, what makes sense practically doesn’t always make sense at the plate. A shorter swing in my mind usually is not really shorter in reality and it caused me to miss even more pitches or start fouling everything off.
“If I can lock a swing in, it should play in any count or any situation. I know my tendency when I am not doing well, is to try and go for basehits. It may not always look like it. Not up there just trying to hit it 500 feet, I’m trying to contribute anyway I can. Sometimes that doesn’t allow my best swing to come out if that makes sense.”
Trumbo also fell off in 2017 in batting versus right-handed pitching. He hit .284/.347/.584 last year but fell off this season to .221/.280/.380. That’s a big drop in slugging.
As a team, the Orioles were so much worse on the road (29-47) than at home (46-35). What is Trumbo’s take on the big difference?
“It is weird. I think everyone approaches each game the same,” he said. “It is not that we have a huge advantage playing here or big disadvantage playing there. It’s a baseball game. I think it is one of those weird things that you can’t point to anything specific. But we have to be better. You don’t want that huge discrepancy.”
I floated a theory by Trumbo, one that goes this way: The Orioles, as a homer-hitting team, are more suited to hit in Camden Yards. When they have to produce runs more often other ways on the road, they don’t fare as well.
“I think home-run hitting teams generally in most parks, still play pretty well. Especially with guys here that can drive it out of any park. I don’t... I know that some of these teams have a little bit of a different look than us at times. Some teams are putting a premium on younger, faster, more explosive types. Those teams are out there. But a lot of times when we are hitting the homers, they probably wish they were doing that too. It probably goes both ways,” he said.
While the Orioles have not played well this month, some of their young players have with outfielder Austin Hays batting .262. Over his past nine games, Hays is batting .314 (11-for-35) with three doubles, a homer, eight RBIs and four multi-hit games.
“He’s a ballplayer,” Trumbo said of Hays. “He’s got a throwback look to him. He’s hard-nosed, he’s gritty. He plays the game the right way and goes all out. He’s got a very bright future. He has a real nice ability to put the barrel on the ball and that always plays.”
Trumbo said if players like Hays and Chance Sisco join the team next year, he would endorse what would then produce a better blend of veterans and young players on the 2018 Orioles.
“For sure. You need guys like that,” he said. “Guys that are creating things on the basepaths and making plays like Austin made in right field. And I think it brings a lot of energy to the team and I think it’s exciting. The more of that you can do throughout a game, the better the team is and the fans probably really enjoy it too.
“You want something sustainable. That is what every team wants. The ability to compete now and compete later. We’ve had some nice players come up.”