The latest column from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports focuses on the league-wide home run surge in 2016. MLB is on pace to set a new record for the most homers in a season on a per-plate-appearance basis. Passan profiles players either experiencing shocking levels of power output (e.g. Brian Dozier, Freddy Galvis) or enjoying a significant rebound in the power department, led by Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo. Acquired in a salary dump with the Mariners, Trumbo’s one-dimensional nature created virtually no trade market for him, Passan notes, and while his power spike will improve his stock this offseason, the one-dimensional questions will still exist. Trumbo is one of baseball’s worst defensive outfielders and has a below-average OBP because he walks less than the prototypical slugger. Still, a much older Nelson Cruz parlayed a 40-homer season into a four-year, $57MM contract, Passan notes, and he came with similar defensive question marks. I’d imagine that a team hoping to put Trumbo at first base wouldn’t be as concerned with his glove, but the combination of his defensive reputation, lack of OBP and a the presence of a qualifying offer will all be working against him.
More from the AL East…
- The Red Sox won’t have a late-inning baserunning specialist this postseason as they have in each of their recent World Series runs, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Boston has previously leaned on Dave Roberts, Joey Gathright and Quintin Berry to serve as a bench weapon late in postseason contests — deploying each with great success in base-stealing situations. The Sox reached out to Berry once again this season following his release from the Angels, but Berry elected to sign with the division-rival Blue Jays, who ultimately released him on Sept. 7 — after the postseason eligibility deadline. There was also some hope that Yoan Moncada could fill the role, but he’s committed a few baserunning blunders that have led the Sox to question whether he’s capable of handling such a stage, Bradford points out.
- There are more teams in the league that believe Edwin Encarnacion can still play a passable first base on an everyday basis than there are teams that believe Jose Bautista can still be an everyday right fielder, per Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair. Certainly, both Blue Jays sluggers will garner interest from American League clubs this winter given the fact that either could spend some time at DH in future seasons, but Blair also notes that there are “at least a couple” of NL teams that view Encarnacion as a viable first base option. Encarnacion, who will turn 34 this offseason, has seen considerably more time at DH than first base in the past two seasons, though it doesn’t sound as if he’ll be viewed strictly in that light this winter. Bautista, meanwhile, will turn 36 in October and has missed time with a knee sprain this season. Both Defensive Runs Saved (-9) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-5) are pessimistic about his defense.