Is it just me, or does it seem as if Mark Trumbo is destined to find himself in the hot seat every off-season? At this time last year there were questions floating about regarding Mark Trumbo and his ability to play third base every day. Mark Trumbo proved his critics right, playing terrible defense at the hot corner for only 8 games before finding refuge in the outfield. Trumbo's defense was only slightly better in the outfield, where he would make 101 starts (66 in LF, 35 in RF), though his defense was easy to overlook with Mike Trout and Torii Hunter covering for the defense lost with Trumbo. It seemed that Trumbo was destined for either 1B or the DH slot, though he was blocked by Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales in those positions. Things are different now, with Kendrys gone to the Mariners and Hamilton effectively replacing Trumbo in the outfield the only position left is DH, which suits Trumbo's all-or-nothing bat perfectly. Trumbo no longer has to worry about his critics questioning his ability to play the field, just his ability to play the game in general.
You would think that a guy who hit 22 HR's with 57 RBI's with a .306/.358/.608 slash line before the All-Star break in 2012 would be safe from the critics, but after a massive drop-off in the second half that saw Trumbo's numbers drop to .227/.271/.359 with half as many HR's and RBI's. We all know Trumbo is an incredibly hard worker and it seemed very much so that all the hard work he put in paid off considerably. His biggest problems in his first season were his inability to read the strike zone and show any semblance of plate discipline whatsoever. In 2012 Trumbo still had trouble with his strikeouts, K'ing 65 times in the first half, which is strangely the same exact number of K's he had by the 2011 All-Star break. The big difference was his ability to work a count and hit his pitches selectively instead of swinging brutishly at everything in sight. The first half of 2012 saw him walk 22 times, which were 6 more than his first half total from 2011. When you pair that up with his OBP of .358, which was 50+ points higher than his 2011 pre-ASB total you can see that Trumbo had made strides in improving his plate discipline and plate recognition. I only use the first half of 2012 and 2011 so much because they show the improvements that he made better than when you look at the entire season totals from 2012 and 2011. This is due to his drop off in the second half of 2012 being so massive that it makes his end numbers very similar to 2011.
The big question is "Will we see the improved Trumbo of pre-ASB 2012 or will the negative trends continue?” I have to take into consideration the hard work that Trumbo puts in, I have no doubt that he is off somewhere right now preparing for 2013, but even if he does get it together will he be able to keep it together the entire season? We saw how easily Trumbo lost it last year, and that could very much happen again in 2013. There do happen to be a few big factors that could play in Trumbo's favor however. Since he is no longer playing the field everyday Trumbo will hold up better throughout the entire season, he won't have to drain himself trying to be a decent fielder and can focus on his hitting. You also have to take into the account that Trumbo already has the experience of going through a terrible slump, and with reports that he was feeling better with his swing near the end of the season Trumbo might be able to start off the new season hot again.
If Trumbo cannot regain form throughout the course of the season would his job be in jeopardy? With the talent around him you have to think that the team can get by with a failing Mark Trumbo, but could the Angels possibly look to move him if it gets so bad? The DH hole isn't a hard one to fill; just about anyone that can competently swing a bat with some force can be a DH. The Angels could go internally and replace him with C.J Cron, though it seems doubtful as to whether or not he'll be ready to play with the Angels by then. He does have an incredibly powerful bat, hitting 27 HR's with 127 RBI's in 525 plate appearance with the Inland Empire 66'ers, but he hasn't played a game above the Class A Advanced level. The one stat that really stands out for me are his numbers with runners in scoring position. In 2012 Cron hit .361/.390/.551 with 89 RBI's in 158 AB's with the 66'ers, as you can see his ability to hit with runners in scoring position are astounding. Unlike post-ASB Trumbo it appears that Cron is a very trustworthy guy with runners on base. Cron still has his problems with strike zone control like Trumbo, shown by his 17 BB's to 72 K's, he could develop the same issues Trumbo has with ML pitching.
Cron just happens to be my favorite option, when it comes to finding a DH you can pick up a number of guys from the free agent pool or by way of trade. They could just pick up the phone and pull a middle-aged veteran away from a team with a compensation package, though I don't know if a trade is the best option given the thin farm system. The point isn't who would replace Trumbo, it's "will Trumbo need to be replaced?” I personally don't believe so, even if Trumbo replicates his 2011 rookie season when he hit 29 HR's with a sub .300 OBP he'll still make a suitable DH. My concern would be Trumbo replicating his 2011 season over the course of the next few years. If it comes to the point where Trumbo underperforms through 2013 and 2014 then I believe it will be time to have him replaced, perfect timing too since Cron will definitely be ready for ML action by 2015.
I'm probably overstating the importance of Trumbo's season given the fact that it will most likely not be an urgent matter unless he is absolutely disastrous. In terms of DH'ing getting a low BA/OBP guy who can pull in big power numbers is perfect and that's the exact make-up of Mark Trumbo. We all know Trumbo is capable is so much more based off of the flash of greatness he showed us last year, but it's no big deal. We still have Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton; those guys can more than make up for Trumbo's shortcomings.