Angels’ Mark Trumbo might just take a home run derby dare
Mark Trumbo has heard the cautionary tales of players losing their power strokes after competing in the home run derby. He has seen the numbers.
He does not scare easily.
If Major League Baseball invites Trumbo to participate in the prelude to the July 10 All-Star game in Kansas City, a very real possibility considering his growing reputation as one of the game’s top young sluggers, the Angels outfielder will probably accept.
“I’ve done some in the minor leagues and always enjoyed them,” said Trumbo, who won the 2009 Texas League home run derby. “I don’t think it changes my swing drastically. I always try to put myself in a position to drive the ball, so I don’t think I would have to make any huge mechanical adjustment to do it.”
Trumbo, who entered Saturday night’s game against the Texas Rangers with a team-leading 10 home runs, after leading the Angels with 29 homers as a rookie in 2011, turns many daily batting-practice sessions into prodigious power displays, launching balls into the outer regions of stadiums across the country.
Before a game against the New York Mets in Citi Field last summer, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Trumbo hit so many 450-foot-or-more bombs the crowd began roaring its approval after each one, even though Trumbo was an opposing player.
The beauty of Trumbo’s moon shots — and what should alleviate concerns the Angels might have of his competing in the home run derby — is that Trumbo doesn’t seem to exert extra effort to hit them. He doesn’t have to “muscle up” to hit the ball that far.
“I’ll usually have some rounds in batting practice where I work on some stuff, but toward the end I’ll let it loose,” Trumbo said. “As more of a power hitter, I think you need to practice doing it — maybe not trying to launch 500-foot homers down the line, but driving the ball to all fields. These are the things I work at, and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to try to hit home runs.”
The home run derby, held the Monday before the All-Star game, has grown into a nationally televised, made-for-ESPN event, one Trumbo has tuned in to for years.
“As a kid, I always made a point of watching it,” Trumbo, 26, said. “I always had a lot of fun watching it, especially in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, when balls were just getting destroyed.”
For some players, there was a flip side to those tape-measure blasts.
After winning the 2003 home run derby, former Angels outfielder Garret Anderson went from hitting 22 homers in the first half to seven homers in the second half.
Then-Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu hit .307 with 18 homers in the first half of 2005. After winning the home run derby that summer, he hit .260 with six homers in the second half.
New York Mets third baseman David Wright (20 homers to six in 2006), Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios (17 homers to seven in 2007) and Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton (21 homers to 11 in 2008) had drop-offs after winning or finishing second in the derby.
For these reasons, Trumbo’s decision to accept an invitation to the home run derby wouldn’t necessarily be a slam-dunk.
“If concerns were brought up down the road, I’d get input from people and try to make the best choice I can,” Trumbo said. “I think it would be a lot of fun to be in the derby, but I also know there are a lot of drawbacks, as we’ve seen before.”
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