Camden Yards is known as one of the best parks in America to watch a baseball game. For hitters, it is heaven. During Buck Showalter tenure as O’s manager, the Orioles have been one of the best hitting teams in the league, sitting in the top 5 for most home runs every season.
Even though the nucleus has always been there - such as Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Weiters, J.J. Hardy, and eventually Manny Machado - the O’s have had other players come in to fill out the lineup but eventually become important players in the lineup.
Mark Trumbo is playing that role currently.
The O’s traded for Trumbo in December, sending catcher Steve Cleavenger and reliever C.J. Riefenhauser to Seattle for the 30-year old slugger. The trade didn’t ring big bells but neither did the acquisition of Nelson Cruz, which I will get into later. The trade was a good move for the O’s because it added another bat and utility player to the roster. Trumbo best season at the plate came in 2013 when he hit 34 home runs and 100 RBIs but only a .234 average for the Angels. The fans of Baltimore knew he could hit, but I don’t think they expected him to do what he is doing now.
Trumbo is currently leading the Majors with 20 home runs in 57 games. According to an article on SI.com, Trumbo is on pace to hit 55 home runs, which will be the most in Orioles history and the most in the Majors since 2006 (Ryan Howard - 58). If Trumbo could stay at this pace - also batting a career high .295 - the Orioles will have to spend some money to keep him here, and if not, Trumbo will get his biggest pay day of his career elsewhere.
While I don’t think Trumbo will reach that plateau of 55 home runs, I do find it interesting that he is having the best season of his career with the Orioles. This has become a trend over the past few years with newly acquired players.
Nelson Cruz first game with the Orioles, he hit a go-ahead bomb in the 7th inning, guiding the O’s to a 2-1 Opening Day victory against the Red Sox. From that point he was a fan favorite. In the month of May, Nelson hit 13 homers and 27 RBIs, which is the best month of his career. He finished the season with 40 homes runs (was his career-high at the time) and a career-high 108 RBIs. What made this season so special is, one the Orioles got him dirt cheap, and he was fresh off his suspension for performance enhancement drugs. The O’s decided to let Nelson walk, Seattle signing him to a 4-year $57 million deal in 2015. Nelson would hit 44 home runs that season, while the O’s missed the playoffs.
Chris Davis played his first four seasons with the Texas Rangers, hitting 42 home runs in 266 games. His highest total was 21. Davis was traded to the O’s in June 2011, only playing 31 games that season. In 2012, Crush emerged hitting 33 home runs, 53 the following season finishing 2nd in the MVP voting. Davis is now a franchise player and $100 million man, which was not expected when he first arrived in Baltimore.
Trumbo is on the verge of joining Davis and Cruz as newly acquired sluggers. Two factors play a role in this theory, one is Camden Yards, and the second is Buck Showalter. Buck has a great skill for managing a bullpen and lineup. He knows how to get the best out of his players, even when they don’t know how good they really are. Trumbo currently sits 5th in the lineup but he and Davis flip-flop. No matter where Trumbo is, pitchers can’t pitch around them both. It was the same situation with Nelson Cruz (Davis just wasn’t having a good season).
Going forward I would like to see if other free agents pay attention to this, because some could resurrect their career in Baltimore, and even see a one more big pay day.