Last offseason, Arizona’s former general manager talked about how the team needed a slugger. The team subsequently traded for Mark Trumbo. Well, year one of the Mark Trumbo era was a failure from both an individual and team perspective. We all know about the D-backs’ struggles by now, and Trumbo, playing in only 87 games due to injury, produced a -1.2 WAR. His offense, defense, and baserunning were all below average. Trumbo’s defense and baserunning have always been pretty terrible, but the offense took a bit of a dive this year. But here’s the issue: even if we assume that Mark Trumbo will match his career-best output in 2015, he’s probably Arizona’s fourth best outfielder.

In order to build my case, I’ll illustrate how A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte, and David Peralta are all more valuable than Trumbo. Pollock is clearly the Diamondbacks’ best outfielder. He has consistently played great defense in center field, and his offense improved dramatically this year. Pollock was on pace to be more than a six win player this year. To put that in perspective, consider that Andrew McCutchen produced 6.9 WAR in 145 games. Pollock produced 3.2 WAR in 75 games. Even if the offense does not stay at 2014 levels, A.J. Pollock is a 3-4 win player. Not only is Pollock better than Trumbo – he’s cheaper too, which is always a consideration for the cost-conscious D-backs.

Ender Inciarte provided superb defense and almost average offense as a rookie. There’s reason for optimism too; Ender will be entering his age-24 season in 2015. It would be great to see Inciarte develop as a hitter, but even if he doesn’t, he provided 2.9 WAR in 118 games. Again, just to reiterate, in Mark Trumbo’s best season thus far, he produced 2.5 WAR in 159 games. That’s Trumbo’s ceiling, while this initial showing is quite possibly Ender’s floor. And again, cost considerations make Ender the easy choice.

Along with Pollock and Inciarte, David Peralta should start over Mark Trumbo in 2015. If you just take a cursory glance at the peripherals, this seems like a close call. Peralta only produced 1.2 WAR in his 87-game rookie season, which translates to an annual rate of about 2.3 WAR. And Peralta turned 27 last month. Yet, Peralta might have the most untapped potential out of all of these players. Including his stint in the majors, Peralta has only played 141 games above single-A ball. A full offseason of major league coaching could help him move further in his development. To make things even better, Peralta’s journey makes a great story. Peralta has not been great against left-handed pitching, but Cody Ross is seemingly stuck on the roster, and he can mash lefties, so worst-case scenario they could offer a productive platoon.

So what to do with Mark Trumbo? Trade him, don’t tender him, anything. In many ways, Trumbo represents what the old management loved — veteran players with a particular set of strong peripheral statistics, but an incomplete overall set of tools. Trumbo was even worse than many expected in the outfield. It’s likely that he could add value on an American League team as a designated hitter/first baseman a la Adam Dunn, but as a National League outfielder, I just don’t see it.

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4 Responses to The Awkward Outfield(er)

  1. GuruB says:

    How about start him in Left Field, so he can have a healthy full season to show what he can do, unlike 2014 where he was dealing with foot problems most of the 1st half

  2. Puneet says:

    Agree with you on the points, but curious about the impact of defense on WAR. Does it seem like WAR overrates defense a bit? For example, Alex Gordan had some crazy WAR this year. He’s a great player and excellent defender, but is he really worth more wins than Mike Trout?

    I definitely think defense is significantly undervalued by a lot of people in baseball (maybe even including the Dbacks), but at the end of the day you have to get runs on the board right?

    Basically, I would probably rather have Eaton than Trumbo right now, but I still think I would be okay with Trumbo’s defensive liabilities if he could take a step forward offensively.

  3. Kevin says:

    The D’Backs definitely NEED to stop selling low on players. I don’t care if Trumbo is their fourth best outfielder, they need to start him and re-establish him to at least boost his trade value. With 150 healthy games under his belt, he’s easily a 35-40 homerun hitter and that type of hitter nets a return on the trade market. Non-tendering him or trading him now would actually be the move that is in line with the Towers administration. See Trevor Bauer and Justin Upton as the clear examples…

  4. Jason Mc says:

    Mark Trumbo is a great power hitter in the making. He was really slugging it early in the season before the injury happened. His defense in the outfield wasn’t bad as it could’ve been not from watching them but I agree that he may be out of place out there and that foot injury is a big factor to his ability to play the position. I dnt know why we dnt try Goldy out there he seems to be more athletic than Trumbo.

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