The mention of Trey Mancini sets off a bit of a firestorm among O’s fans. There are those who view him as a cornerstone piece of the team, a player “to build around,” who will be a star on the next good Orioles team, one that’s ostensibly four-five years in the future. These are the same folks who were furious that the team traded Jonathan Schoop last summer, for the most part.
Then there are those who view Mancini as a nice piece, but certainly not a centerpiece…more of a complementary player. These fans see Trey as a guy who – especially at his current level of production – contending teams would be drooling over either this July or next winter, due to the three years of team control Mancini still has remaining after 2019.
That argument will certainly not be settled here today. Instead, we’re just going to give more ammo to both camps to bolster their respective arguments.
Let’s look at where Mancini ranks among AL* hitters at the moment:
So what’s Trey changed since his disappointing 2018 campaign?
For one thing, he looks to be staying on the outside pitches more, taking them the other way with authority. Of his first six home runs in 2019, five have been hit to center or right field.
Mancini’s heat maps reflect this.
Here’s last year:
Let’s focus on that upper outside corner of the strike zone. You can see that, in 2018, Trey was swinging at 47% and 53% of the pitches that approached that upper corner, and then just 29% and 42% if the pitcher was able to paint the outer black at his numbers.
This next chart will show his slugging percentage on all pitches he saw last year. Again, look at those four up top and outside.
0.060, 0.020, 0.094, and 0.040.
So how about here so far in 2019? First, swing percentages:
66% (up from 47%), 71% (up from 53%), 41% (up from 29%), and 38% (down from 42%, the only dip we see out there). He also looks like he is setting his sights up a bit on that outside corner. In 2018, those outermost bottom three boxes read 51%, 51%, 39%. This year: 26%, 30%, 42% (let that one go, Trey!)
Now, slugging again:
Man, look at all that red up at the top right.
0.060 went to 0.781.
0.094 exploded to 1.286.
0.020 went to 0.250.
0.40 shot up to 0.345.
Keeping his eyes up and out has also helped Mancini increase his launch angle. In 2018, Mancini posted a ground ball percentage of 54.6, a career high. This year, that’s back down to 45.5%, which would be a career best for a full season (it was 40% during his five game cup of coffee in 2016).
Of course, as I’ve been writing this, Mancini has gone 0-for-4 in Tampa, likely putting an end to his five-game hitting streak. Through he hasn’t homered in a week, he had a double in four straight games until Tuesday night.
The bet here is that Mancini continues his All-Star caliber start as spring rolls on. If that happens, the volume of the conversation surrounding his status within the rebuild will only continue to crank up towards 11.
Spray charts & GB% c/o FanGraphs