I know the knee-jerk response is "no way, he's a rookie and that's too much pressure to put on him." And, honestly, that thought has crossed my mind and led to this post. First let's take a look at why this keeps popping into my head as a possibly viable solution.
While sitting in the stands on Sunday, I saw Torii Hunter hit into his league leading 16th double play. He is already near his career average for GIDP and well onto his way of crushing his previous high of 23. Not only that, but his batting average of .230 and OPS+ of 97 are well below his career averages and a further drop than an additional year of age would be expected to bring. I think the drop in his production is due to the pressure he puts on himself when he bats cleanup.
How does a guy lead a league in GIDP? By pulling the ball and hitting it right to third or short. Over his career, Torii has been a much more prolific doubles hitter than home run guy (33 2B to 22 HRs as an Angel) and he is trying to re-invent himself into a power/pulling hitter with disastrous results. Moving him to his natural #5 spot might get more of the old, productive Torii back.
That leaves Mark Trumbo. He leads all the Angels and all MLB rookies with 11 home runs, but he's not a one trick pony. He also has 11 doubles, is slugging .485 and has an OPS+ of 124. And, he's done half of that damage hitting in front of Jeff Mathis.
On Saturday, Trumbo was again intentionally walked with a runner on in a key situation so an opponnent could get to Mathis. That's three times so far this year. On Sunday, with Conger behind him he got two hits including a homer.
So, all in all, moving Mark Trumbo to cleanup would put our best power bat in that spot while possibly letting Torii ease up and play his game. Plus, having Hunter in the lineup behind him should provide him with a few better pitches to hit (and fewer IBBs) than with Mathis. Ordinarily, I would never envision a rookie batting cleanup, but desperate times call for desperate measures. What do you guys think?
Who should be our cleanup going forward?
Trumbo (175 votes)
Torii (10 votes)
Abreu (11 votes)
Branyan (5 votes)
Howie (16 votes)
Other (explain below) (3 votes)
220 total votes