Trumbo's mammoth homers make him a big shot
Angels slugger doesn't win Home Run Derby, but players can't stop talking about him
KANSAS CITY -- OK, so Mark Trumbo didn't win the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday night. Prince Fielder did.
But even without a trophy, few will forget Trumbo's showing at Kauffman Stadium, one that left him just short of reaching the final round.
Heck, he was all everyone seemed to be able to talk about afterward.
The Royals' Billy Butler, the hometown guy who didn't get picked, was asked whether he had ever seen someone swing as hard as Fielder. Then he changed the subject.
"I don't think I've seen a guy hit balls further than I saw Mark Trumbo hit them," Butler replied. "I don't know who swung harder, but Mark Trumbo hit a ball into the Hall of Fame. I don't think we'll ever see that again."
Derby participant Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies was asked what impressed him the most during the competition. Easy question.
"Trumbo," Gonzalez bellowed. "He has special power. He's above-average. It's ridiculous the way he hits the ball."
And when Boston's David Ortiz, a Derby veteran not competing this year, was asked about Fielder, he went off on a tangent about the other American League slugger.
"I was impressed by him," Ortiz said. "I mean, I've been watching his highlights when he goes deep and everything, but -- he hit a 420-foot line drive [to straightaway center field]. I have never seen anything like that before, in my 20-year career. That's scary. I hope that when he goes to Fenway and he goes deep, he hits that [ball] in the highway. If he hits a line drive like that to the Green Monster, he's going to hurt somebody. Oh, my God, that was impressive."
Trumbo launched 13 homers through two rounds, then one more in a tiebreaker he lost to Toronto's Jose Bautista for the right to face Fielder in the finals. His average distance per homer of 434 feet topped everybody else, and his longest traveled 457. One went into the waterfall in left-center field, one landed in the grass in the alley, one went into the lawn in straightaway center -- that was the one Ortiz raved about -- one went near the Fan Cave slide in left-center and two of them hit the wall beyond a batch of seats.
"Trumbo, man," Derby participant Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates said, "he's hitting home runs that I could never hit."
But the one everyone will remember is the one that traveled beyond the left-field seats and hit the roof, above the Royals Hall of Fame building. It was measured at 428 feet, but it seemed to travel a whole lot farther.
"He's really scary," said Bautista, who hit homers in his first two tiebreaker swings to advance to the final round, with Trumbo hitting only one in five cuts. "When he hit that line drive to center field, to me that was the most impressive home run today. And then the second one, obviously, when he hit it almost out of the stadium on top of the Hall of Fame. That's, that's really far. I mean, I can hit it out, but I can't hit it 500 feet or whatever that was. It's amazing to see. I certainly can't do that."
Trumbo, the fifth Angels player to compete in the Home Run Derby, was perhaps the least-heralded guy in the field of eight. But he was the one everyone wanted to watch and many were picking to win, due to a .306/.358/.608 slash line, 22 homers and -- most interestingly -- the longest average distance per home run in the Majors this season.
AL captain Robinson Cano of the Yankees, booed incessantly for not choosing hometown favorite Butler, picked Trumbo thanks to a recommendation from Angels teammate Albert Pujols.
"I got a chance to see him hit BP when we faced them in their place," Cano said. "I came over to talk to Pujols, and I saw him hit home runs way out there, by the rocks [in center field]. I said, 'I have to pick this guy. This guy could help me win.' "
In the end, Trumbo didn't win -- but he did leave his mark.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.