Mark Trumbo had 17 home runs heading into the series in Baltimore and finished up with 18, adding one more amidst the offensive pillage of Camden Yards followed by one more in Toronto to bring his grand total to 19. To date, that puts him only 7 behind the Major League leader Jose Bautista (26) coming up here on the All-Star break. Some say he’s a shoe-in for the Home Run Derby and rightfully so with the power he possesses (.315 AVG, .625 SLG, .992 OPS) . Trumbo leads the league with 13 HR’s since May 27th and has not shown any signs of slowing down. He reimagines the last great Angel to hit in the 4-spot and instill fear among opposing pitchers: Vladimir Guerrero. Funny enough, Guerrero too held his own among Derby contestants.
The last two Angels who won the Home Run Derby were the only two Angels in the last decade to participate: Garrett Anderson in 2003 and Vladimir Guerrero in 2007. Both were feared presences in the batter’s box and could, on any pitch, take you all the way to the batter’s eye. The big myth about the All-Star Game is it affects momentum by transforming plate approach. Angel fans don’t want to see their most consistent and productive hitter thus far in the season dip because he’s chasing mid-season hardware. Home run hitters in the contest develop a slight undercut to influence the trajectory, land it on the other side of the fence. But honestly, the hitting mentality never really changes when you head back into team play.
Some may say he’s not the most reliable power source but Vernon Wells (25 HR’s in 2011) did only finish 4 HRs short of Trumbo last year despite a season in which his bat could not find answers to questions at the plate. He’ll be the first to tell you that you shoot for gaps and home runs are rewards of such swings. Trumbo already has half his doubles total (15) from last season. Of course no hitter in the Derby uses this same mentality of doubles because it is futile in a home run contest, but once they’re back in game action nothing should change. Trumbo has a student’s mentality, he learns game-to-game and only seems to improve. He does strike out 24% of the time but he takes more pitches and swings at fewer balls outside the zone. He has changed.
In both seasons that Anderson and Guerrero won, yes their averages did drop from All-Star Break to finish but that didn’t necessarily entail missed production. Guerrero’s dropped from .325 to .324 and his nearly matched his first half home run total of 14 with 13 other home runs. Anderson dropped his average from .316 at the break to .315 at the end of the season; his home run production did dip significantly from 22 in the first half to 7 in the second. But what Anderson didn’t have that Guerrero did, and Trumbo now, is support. The present team is finally well-rounded and the force of Morales and Pujols really won’t allow extensive slumps. And if all points north for Trumbo, maybe he can also get himself some end-of-the season hardware.
So in my opinion, let Trumbo represent Anaheim next week. He deserves it, and so does the franchise.