Fantasy baseball Stat Focus: Mark Trumbo brings real, cheap power

Thursday July 11th, 2013

Mark Trumbo might be the only elite power hitter available in a fantasy trade at an affordable price.
John Williamson/Getty Images

With just four days remaining until the All-Star break, we're now in the final third of the fantasy baseball regular season. Trade deadlines are looming in most leagues, and now's the time to make a deal in order to actually feel the impact of your acquisition. In the next few weeks, we'll try to highlight players you can get who can satisfy a need without breaking the bank. And we'll do that, of course, with an advanced stats bent.

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Let's kick it off with power, seemingly a perpetual need for fantasy owners. Now, Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez and the like are not on the block. But there's one slugger who can be had and provide the added pop you need: the Angels' Mark Trumbo.

Trumbo hit his 20th homer of the season Wednesday night against the Cubs. While it was a line shot that barely had enough height to clear the wall in left, there has been little doubt about most of Trumbo's homers this year. According to ESPN's great Home Run Tracker, the average true distance of Trumbo's homers this year is 417.1 feet. That's good for fifth in the league, trailing Justin Upton, Mike Napoli, Matt Holliday and Mike Trout. Average true distance measures where a ball would land if it didn't hit any of those pesky seats or fans beyond the outfield fence. Basically, it tells us who really got one. But it can also be a bit misleading. After all, part of the reason Napoli is second is because he only has 11 homers. Theoretically, the more data points we input into the equation, the lower the final answer will be. That's why Cabrera is 22nd and Davis is 28th, but Desmond Jennings is 15th. So we can't take this number on it's own. Oh, but the Home Run Tracker knows we want more than just one stat. And it's happy to oblige.

The Home Run Tracker also keeps tabs on what it calls "no doubts." Those are home runs that clear the fence by at least 20 feet vertically and land 50 feet beyond it. In everyday baseball vernacular, they're bombs. Trumbo has eight of these, which ties him for second with Davis, Cabrera, Mark Reynolds, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez is first with nine.

Looking at all these numbers together, we can see that Trumbo is the only players in the majors with at least 20 homers who is also in the top 10 in average true distance and no-doubt shots. There's one more number we use to define the legitimacy and staying power of a player's home-run stroke, and that's HR/FB ratio. We talked about this stat a few weeks ago, but just to refresh your memory, it calculates the percentage of fly balls a player hits that leave the yard. Well, guess what? Trumbo's pretty good at that, too.

His HR/FB ratio this year is 20.7 percent, which places him 11th in the majors. Last year it was 20.6 percent. For the last two years combined, he ranks ninth in the stat. You can break down power in a number of ways, as we have done here, but no matter how you do it, Trumbo's is legit.

So how will a guy like this come cheap? Trumbo's hitting .248 with a .315 OBP this year. In 1,556 career plate appearances, he has a .256 batting average and .305 OBP. He doesn't steal bases. Thanks to the Angels' surging offense, he's a three-category player, but he's a rate killer. That's the kind of guy with whom an owner can part at the right price, and it's what makes Trumbo the best target out there if you're looking for power.

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