The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo just might be the thinking man’s hitter. Listen to him in interviews and it’s clear he has a real plan when he gets in the batter’s box. Talented pitchers don’t always allow him to execute it, but he is doing a lot more than just hacking up there.
Off to a solid start this year with his new team, Trumbo has become a student of exit velocity - that is the speed with which the ball comes off the bat. All hitters strive to hit the ball hard and now, through Statcast technology, just how hard they do hit a ball can be tracked.
Trumbo ranks among the major league leaders in average exit velocity. Through Sunday’s games, he ranked eighth in the majors with an average exit velocity of 94.9 mph.
Trumbo told me that he became more of a student of exit velocity during winter workouts leading up to this season. He has some real knowledge on the topic.
“There is a, I guess it would be a machine not unlike a golf simulator, called the HitTrax that is in the facility that me and a few other players hit at in the offseason,” he said. “It has a tremendous ability to measure all sorts of things. But two of the ones I place a lot of importance in are the exit velocity and the launch angle.
“You know that is obviously a pretty technical way of talking about hitting the ball hard. You know if you can combine hitting line drives and some fly balls, but having that high exit velocity too, that is where the damage is done in this game. In the air with some miles per hour behind it. I don’t know how else to put it, other than hitting it high and hard is going to be good for a hitter.”
Through 30 games Trumbo is batting .325/.378/.598 with three doubles, a triple, nine homers and 24 RBIs. He has an OPS of .976 and has hit .396 with runners on base and .480 with runners on base and two outs.
“I view the swing and what happens in the batter’s box as a culmination of all the work put in behind the scenes,” he said. “So I think just reinforcing proper mechanics over and over and over again, is going to give you a much better chance. Now couple that with a good frame of mind and approach and that is what ultimately will lead to success.
“Having some structured practice plans all winter long with some goals in mind as far as what I want my consistent swing on certain pitches to be, only helps in the reguar season.”
Yep, this guy definitely has a plan when he steps in against another 95 mph fastball. Sometimes as fast as the pitches come in, they can go out even faster if the batter can square it up.
“You always strive to hit the ball hard,” Trumbo said. “But now you can really get down to how hard are you hitting it and can you maintain that throughout the year? Even a ground ball hit hard gives you a better chance of that ball finding a hole. You can go into some funks from time to time on offense, but you always want to get back to hitting the ball on the screws. That is where the good stuff happens.”
Trumbo was named the Co-American League Player of the Week for the period ending April 17, batting .320/.346/.960 with five home runs and 11 RBIs. He became the first Oriole to ever homer twice in the same inning on April 15 at Texas. He hit a two-run homer and a three-run homer in the seventh inning of that game.
He has sure been a nice addition to the Orioles. He has certainly become a student of exit velocity. Now when he hits a ball hard, he says he has a real sense exactly how hard he actually did strike the ball.
“I like the ESPN home run tracker. I think that is pretty neat. I guess I like comparing what I think it (the exit velocity) is now with some knowledge of it and then seeing what it actually is. I believe I can estimate fairly well what it actually is,” he said.
The Orioles got rained out at Minnesota last night. It was their fourth postponement this season. They will make up that game at Minnesota on July 28. Tonight the O’s and Twins try to start this series with right-hander Kevin Gausman (0-1, 1.42 ERA) facing right-hander Jose Berrios (1-1, 6.75 ERA).