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If dongs, whiffs and iffy defense are for you, #Trumbo2016 wants your vote

To his namesake, Mark Trumbo has stormed out of the gates as a surprising fan favorite. A larger than life character, an in-your-face swing and questionable defensive tactics are fitting to his newfound moniker. Though if you build Trumbo a wall, he won't raise his arms in contempt. He'll just a hit a baseball over it.

Kim Klement/Tommy Gilligan-USA Today Sports

For most of the offseason, I'd forgotten the Orioles traded for Mark Trumbo.

To no fault of his own, his acquisition was lost in the muck of the O's constant swirling amidst claims by "sources", among other typical Orioles shenanigans. Maybe it was my man-crush on Steve Clevenger that kept me from embracing Trumbo, but trading a third-string catcher for a player who averages 31 home runs per 162 games should have been enough to find someone new. Oh, hey Joey...

Much was made about where Trumbo would play in the Orioles lineup before the addition of Pedro Alvarez, and even more was discussed post-Alvarez. The 6'4, 225-pound Trumbo had compiled a career -16 DRS and -13.4 UZR as an outfielder since 2010, but frankly, you don't need defensive metrics to know that Trumbo as a near full-time outfielder wouldn't appease the masses. Yet, all the hubbub regarding Trumbo's defensive prowess, or lack thereof, seemed to deflect the attention away from the sole purpose the Orioles wanted him. To add more juice to the blender.

Thus far on the campaign trail, Trumbo has set out to "Make the Orioles Great Again", but he's done it rather out of character. Though if you ask Mr. Trump, character is often overrated.

After a week and change in the orange and black, Trumbo is slashing .406/.441/.625 with two home runs and five runs driven in, a testament to a personally rare combination of power, patience and cutting down on his swing. In his first 34 plate appearances, Trumbo has managed to put the ball in play, striking out only 11.8% of the time. Most noticeably, Trumbo has seen an uptick in production to the opposite field.

When mentioning the opposite field, Trumbo has batted the baseball to right field at a career 25.9% rate, but in 2016's small sample size, Trumbo has pushed the baseball oppo-boppo at a 36.0% clip.

Again, there isn't much to go on, but the actuality of poking the baseball to right field as a reputable pull-hitting slugger is a feat in and of itself. Often you'll hear baseball jargon such as "hands inside the baseball" or "cutting down" on the swing, which, in other words, simply means a hitter isn't getting long in their swing, allowing oneself to use the entirety of the field. The importance in the utilization of the entire field means that Trumbo's swing is in peak performance. There is no pressing need to pull the ball to left field, rather a fundamental approach of "hit it where it's pitched", as he did here against David Price.

Limited data or not, Trumbo has opened the door for further possibilities by turning the outer-half of the plate into a weapon. As impressive as his mini-explosion on the outer half of the plate has been, the most inspiring early returns have been in his actual approach at the plate.

I like to think inflated chase and strikeout rates are caused by swinging at bad pitches, thus producing bad counts but hey, don't we all? Trumbo's joining of the Orioles was viewed as yet another damage-to-contact clone, though that's often a cute phrase for a guy that hits a lot of homers and strikes out just as much. Again again, Trumbo has only accounted for 34 plate appearances, but a humble disinterest in pitches out of the zone has become yet another source of optimism.

Mark Trumbo Plate Discipline, 2016 (30 PA)

O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% Contact% Whiff%
2010-15 40.9% 66.8% 52.1% 72.1% 14.3%
2016 30.8% 77.2% 55.1% 90.0% 5.4%

A nearly 31% chase rate doesn't quite outline a lack of aggression, but we do see what happens when Trumbo doesn't leave the strike zone over 40% of the time. A slightly encouraging growth of conservatism hasn't handcuffed Trumbo, rather showing him the path to thrive. Sniping for pitches over the plate has seen Trumbo's contact rate skyrocket, an especially pleasing outcome given his 96.6 MPH average exit velocity so far in 2016. Naturally, staying over the plate has forced pitchers to come into the strike zone, and Trumbo, of course, has seen a significant decrease in swings and misses. Very simply, Trumbo is doing his best to not become his own worst enemy, and is rewarding himself with pitches to hit.

In today's baseball world, Trumbo is overlooked. He doesn't have a true position, lacks the contact/on-base peripherals in order to obtain cult status, and to a degree I've yet to grasp, home run hitters are viewed as detriments . In other words, he's THE perfect dark-horse candidate.

Yes, Trumbo isn't a historically savvy defender. Throw in a lack of natural fit on top of a position that requires a first-step and underrated athleticism and you're probably going to have reoccurring issues. The big man doesn't walk, and while his way-too-early strides can't be overlooked, don't expect Trumbo to immediately become a .340 OBP-type player. Trumbo is a run producer. His role in this mixed bag of baseball emotions is to inspire awe with prodigious bombs. He's going to miss liners over his head, misread popups and maybe even boot a few, but the Orioles brought in a slugger. And who knows, maybe hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh or someone else fed him something new to add his already overlooked resume, and maybe we're being revealed the progress.

So here I am, in an attempt to relinquish my Trumbo-related miscomings, stamping my approval for the lead-footed, bear-sized behemoth. No presidential candidate is perfect, nor will any player ever be (other than Joey Rickard), but Trumbo's small turnaround bodes well going forward. I pledge to blaze the campaign trail on behalf of a man that makes Buck Showalter look the size of an Oompa Loopa. For a man as gracious as a giraffe on roller skates. For a brighter tomorrow. But above all...

...for dingers. Lots and lots of dingers.