How Mark Trumbo has improved
Better plate discipline and more walks have turned the slugger into a force
After making arguably the biggest splash in free agency this past winter -- signing both the premier positional (Albert Pujols) and pitching (C.J. Wilson) free agents -- the Los Angeles Angels suffered through a dismal first month, posting a 9-15 record and a run differential of minus-10. It was thought that by adding Wilson to an already dominant pitching staff (and above-average defense), the Angels would benefit from arguably the best run prevention in the majors.
But while the Angels have the 11th-best ERA in the league (ninth-best park-adjusted ERA), their run prevention to this point has actually been worse than last year (sixth-best ERA, fourth-best park-adjusted ERA in 2011).
Still, fast-forward 2½ months, and the Angels currently find themselves seven games above .500 with a run differential of plus-43, sitting atop the American League wild-card standings. The biggest improvement for the Angels has been the offense, which is the fourth-best park-adjusted offense in baseball (106 wRC+) behind the division rival Texas Rangers (108 wRC+). That's a 10 percent improvement from last year's Angels team.
Pujols has been good, but he hasn't been otherworldly. That descriptor has generally been reserved for super rookie Mike Trout, who accounts for roughly 16 percent of the team's run creation. And while Trout has indeed shown that he is a once-in-a-generation player, he's not the only Angel having a breakout year. Mark Trumbo has quietly elevated his game significantly and has been a driving force in pulling the Angels out of their early-season struggles and back into postseason contention.
To read the full story, plus get all of ESPN Insider's MLB content, sign up today and become an Insider.