When the Los Angeles Angels o’ Anaheim signed Albert Pujols to be their new first baseman, they supplanted Mark Trumbo, a 26-year-old who finished second in the AL in Rookie of the Year voting almost entirely because he hit 29 home runs.
The solution to this problem for the Angels apparently is to move Trumbo across the diamond to third base (a la Miguel Cabrera) despite the fact he has no pro experience at the position. Their reasoning is that Trumbo used to be a pitcher (so he has the arm) and that he’s fairly athletic and has decent footwork.
Yesterday however, Trumbo got a little taste of what life as a third baseman can be like sometimes:
“Slugger Mark Trumbo’s transition to third base hit a brief snag when he took a groundball off the nose and had to cut short his workout Friday morning.
The ball came off the fungo bat of coach Rob Picciolo and hit the lip of the infield grass, according to Jorge Cantu, who was standing nearby. A trainer applied a towel to Trumbo’s nose and he was carted off to the Angels spring-training clubhouse, where he lay on the trainer’s table with gauze stuffed in his nostrils.”
The sound you hear is the muted slap of every Angels’ fan facepalming.**
Players like Trumbo don’t often stick around too long as regular players at the Major League level. He does have a lot of power, but he also has a questionable hit tool and finished last season with a downright awful 4.4% walk-rate, essentially half the league average. What makes the team’s attempt to move Trumbo to third rather than explore their options on the trade market even more perplexing is that they already have a capable third baseman on the roster in Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo may not be the flashiest player around, but he has had an above-average wRC+ in two of the last three years while providing consistently above average defense; they could do much worse.
It isn’t very often that a player can move backwards on the defensive spectrum successfully, so it’s unlikely that Trumbo can make this transition work. And even if he does, Callaspo’s still a better overall player, both offensively and with the glove so the point of trying to squeeze Trumbo into a place he likely doesn’t fit seems like an exercise in futility.
Ultimately, Trumbo’s future in Anaheim is uncertain and taking groundballs off the face is probably not going to help this.
**It should be noted that this could happen to even the best defensive third basemen.