Admit it, as an Angels fan, when you hear the term “super-utility player” you think back to the good ol’ days of Chone Figgins or perhaps Maicer Izturis or even Alexi Amarista in the future. Super-utility players are generally shortstops that are athletic enough to play second base or the outfield in a pinch. The Angels are generally the kings of using super-utility player as no other teams use them with as much consistency as the Angels do, or with as much success. The Halos will once again be looking to employ an effective utility player in 2012 that brings an element to the lineup they may be lacking. Only this time around, it won’t be speed or batting average or on-base percentage. In 2012 the Angels will be looking to infuse additional power to their lineup with a utility player and that player, is Mark Trumbo.
Trumbo was drafted in 2004 out of Villa Park High School as a pitcher. Reports suggest that Trumbo routinely dialed his fastball into the mid-90’s and had committed to play ball for collegiate powerhouse USC. However, during his physical, the Angels noticed some irregularities in his MRI and deemed his days as a pitcher over. But they liked his power enough to attempt a move to the infield. Initially they tried him at third base but immediately decided that while his arm played well at the hot corner, he lacked the mobility and glove to competently play the position. Next, they gave him his shot at first base and found a fit, though reports suggested he was never particularly good there. During his stint in AA the Angels got the idea to try him out in the outfield. While he didn’t cover a great deal of ground, his speed was proven adequate as was his arm. Should he ever become a regular outfielder for the Angels, he shouldn't worry about many balls in the gap as he'll inevitably be playing next to three of the fastest players in major league baseball in Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Jeremy Moore. But after his first full season in the majors, where he slammed 29 homeruns and played a very solid first base, the Angels will again be asking Trumbo to switch positions.
Trumbo has begun taking ground balls again at third base, only this time around he appears to be considerably more prepared. Compared to when he was drafted, Trumbo is leaner, but stronger and more solidly built. He’s had enough experience now to cleanly field some of the harder hit ground balls and the Angels feel he’s ready to perhaps play third base on a semi-regular basis. He’ll also get his shot in the corner outfield this season and should find some at bats as the designated hitter as well. I wouldn’t expect him to play much first base unless Pujols needs some time off. It's easy to imagine Trumbo playing third base once a week, DH once a week and right field once a week n 2012. They’d keep his booming bat in the lineup often enough to contribute and would give Callaspo, Morales and Hunter enough time off to keep their legs fresh for the full year.
As odd as it seems Trumbo may never be the Angels first baseman again. For the next year or two at least he’s going to be a utility player. If he’s successful he could potentially revolutionize the position and cause other teams to try using their premium power hitting prospects as an occasional third baseman and corner outfielder. It’s possible that if he succeeds, the days of power hitting prospects being limited to one-dimensional roles as either a DH or first baseman are through. Perhaps the most abstract concept to consider through all of this is that we may not even call Trumbo a first baseman anymore. Five years from now he’s going to be better known as a right fielder, left fielder or third baseman. Who would’ve thought?