Monday, September 5, 2011

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By Andre Castillo - AngelsWin.com Feature Columnist

Mark Trumbo has had an outstanding year for a rookie. This, naturally, has gotten him a lot of attention for the Rookie of the Year award. But does he deserve this attention? Has Trumbo really been the best AL rookie this year? Let's look at his standard batting line:

Mark Trumbo: Standard Stats

AVG
HR
RBI
Mark Trumbo
.256
25
77

Those 25 HRs and 77 RBIs lead all major league rookies. Looking good so far. But he isn't competing against all major league rookies, just AL ones. So here is how he compares to other AL sluggers:

Rookie HR Leaders - AL

HR
RBI
Mark Trumbo
25
77
J.P. Arencibia
20
66
Eric Hosmer
15
63
Casper Wells
10
26
Eric Thames
9
30
Desmond Jennings
8
34
Mike Carp
8
34

Trumbo is solidly in the lead in both categories. So you could say that, based on these stats, Trumbo should win the Rookie of the Year award. If these stats are what you cared most about, then I think you would be right. However, I don't believe that these are the only stats that you should care about.

The advanced stats over at Fangraphs.com, which take a more holistic view of a player's contributions, tell a different story.

Trumbo: Advanced stats


OBP
SLG
wOBA
wRC+
WAR
Mark Trumbo
.295
.478
.329
106
2.1

We can see that Trumbo is starting to get in a little bit of trouble here. His OBP is pretty brutal for a slugger, a below average .295. His SLG is solid, but you can see how his low OBP bring down his weighted on-base average (wOBA, which combines AVG/OBP/SLG into one stat) and his wRC+. (wRC+ works just like OPS+ but instead of using OPS it uses wOBA. A score of 100 is league average, anything higher is above average, and vice versa).

As you can see Trumbo, at 106, is only slightly better than a league average hitter. This has only been enough for him to put up a decent, but not great, WAR total. (Part of which is due to his solid 7.0 UZR rating for his defense. Apparently UZR likes his defense quite a bit).

Here is how Trumbo's WAR total compares to other rookies, pitchers and batters included:


WAR
Michael Pineda
3.0
Dustin Ackley
2.8
Zach Britton
2.3
Mark Trumbo
2.1
Desmond Jennings
2.1
Ivan Nova
2.1
Jordan Walden
1.9
Josh Reddick
1.9

In this ranking, Trumbo is only tied for 4th among AL rookies, with two pitchers ahead of him, Michael Pineda and Zach Britton. He's also behind the Mariner's Dustin Ackley (previously best known for being drafted behind Stephen Strasburg), yet Ackley only has 285 plate appearances, compared to Trumbo's 501 PAs.

And then Trumbo is also tied with Desmond Jennings, who has just 184 PAs!

What gives? How can Trumbo be so close in the middle when he has hundreds more PAs than his (hitting) competition? Let's look to the advanced stats.

Rookie batting leaders according to wOBA (min. 150 Pas)


wOBA
wRC+
OBP
Desmond Jennings
.420
171
.403
Dustin Ackley
.368
136
.372
Mike Carp
.355
127
.345
Josh Reddick
.347
114
.341
Eric Thames
.345
117
.319
Eric Hosmer
.336
109
.334
Casper Wells
.329
107
.317
Mark Trumbo
.329
106
.295
Jemile Weeks
.324
105
.333

(Note that wRC+ is both league and park-adjusted, so that explains why some players on the list have a higher wOBA but a lower wRC+ than the batter behind them.)

Looking at these, Trumbo is not nearly the caliber of hitter as some of the other AL rookies. Jennings, Ackley, and Carp are blowing him away in OBP, wOBA, and wRC+. Every hitter on this list actually has a significantly higher OBP than Mark Trumbo.

Just taking a quick glance at wRC+, it doesn't even look like Trumbo, with his relatively mediocre 106 rating, should even be in the ROY conversation.

But he his, because counting stats matter too (even if some of them don't count for as much as people think). Trumbo's main competition, with the exception of Ackley, just haven't acquired the number of PAs necessary to impact their teams in the way that Trumbo has. This is why Trumbo is still in the hunt and tied for 4th in rookie WAR (and tied for 2nd among hitters).

That being said, there's still a month to play. Given how far behind Trumbo is in the rate stats (i.e. wOBA), if everyone's rate stats remain somewhat consistent going forward, Trumbo's going to keep falling farther and farther behind the other hitters in the race for ROY, to say nothing of the pitchers competing for the award. As a result, I don't currently expect Trumbo to win ROY, nor do I think that (at this point) he should.

Of course, ROY voters don't always care about what the advanced stats say. Trumbo will all in likelihood finish the year leading all AL rookies in HR and RBI, all while playing for a team in a tight playoff race. That matters to some voters. While I personally don't think that means Trumbo should be deemed the AL's Rookie of the Year, there are some ROY voters that might think otherwise.

With just one month left to go in the season, it will be interested to see how it all plays out.
Love to hear what you think!

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