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40 in 40: Taylor Trammell is on the mend

Whether it’s recovering from injury, or improving at the big league level, don’t count Taylor Trammell out.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The offseason is long, and the narrative is constantly shifting. Up until yesterday one point of discussion being had by Mariners fans was which one of Taylor Trammell, Jarred Kelenic, or Cade Marlowe would win the left field roster spot out of Spring Training, with the team having only addressed that role partially in the free agent market by signing AJ Pollock as a platoon option. The last way any of us wanted that question answered (at least partially answered) is through injury. Unfortunately that seems to be the case for Trammell, as he is due to miss all of Spring Training and then some due to a broken bone in his hand that will require surgery.

Only eight days until Spring Training games begin this is certainly a step back for the twenty-five year old Trammell, who already was facing the challenge of adjusting to pitching at the major league level, and experienced some missed time in the 2022 season due to hamstring issues on two separate occasions. The silver lining here is that this new injury is more of the freak accident variety and nothing mechanically concerning or lingering from last season, and the expected recovery time will have him returning roughly around the start of the regular season. If he needs more time in the minor leagues than a rehab stint will allow, he still has a minor league option.

There was plenty of reason to be excited about Trammell coming out of the offseason, and to still be excited when he returns from injury. When Jerry Dipoto appeared for a radio interview for Seattle Sports with Brock Huard and Mike Salk he mentioned that he received fantastic feedback on the work that Taylor had done in the offseason on his hitting. That work was being done at least in part with Driveline Baseball in Kent, WA, who did work with multiple Mariners in the offseason, and word is possibly nobody was putting in more work than Trammell.

Taylor has always been one to make adjustments to his swing throughout his career, and analytically minded in doing so, so it’s no surprise he is seeking out the best tools possible to take himself to the next level. Andrew Aydt, Hitting Coordinator for Driveline, even took the time out to highlight Trammell’s focus and progress this off-season.

Any progress in his approach is welcomed at this point if it helps his results at the big league level, which so far have been mostly underwhelming. Although at only 295 plate appearances so far across 94 games in two seasons, and only twenty five years old, there is still plenty of time to prove himself there. Last year he already showed some moderate progress. In his MLB debut season of 2021 he put up a line of .160/.256/.359 with a wRC+ of 73 across 178 plate appearances, and last year he put up .196/.284/.402 with a wRC+ of 99 across 117 plate appearances. He also saw his walk rate increase from 9.6% in ‘21 to 11.1% in ‘22, and his strikeout rate go from a terrifying 42.1% in ‘21 to a much improved 28.2% in ‘22, and moderate increases in average exit velocity and Barrel/PA. His big league results last year are also somewhat weighted down by his struggles in his eleven games at the end of the season. From May 22nd until he suffered a hamstring strain on June 28th he had a line of .235/.323/.457 and a wRC+ of 126 across 94 plate appearances. His 98 plate appearances in the minors last year were a punctuation mark on him only having the highest level to still prove himself at. There Trammell posted a .333/.408/.575, a wRC+ of 144, and a career best strikeout rate of 17.3%.

Baseball Savant

The next time Trammell sees major league level pitching the area to keep your eye on most is how he approaches off-speed and breaking pitches, his kryptonite last year at that level. The two pitches he saw most last year were four seamers and sliders, and the results couldn’t be more different. When facing four seamers he produced a hearty .479 wOBA and .464 xwOBA, and against sliders that was an almost non-existent .041 wOBA and .079 xWOBA. His results against four seamers is significantly improved than it was in 2021, but every other pitch type stagnated or regressed.

On the personality side, Trammell is already a perfect fit in the clubhouse with a Fun Differential that is off the charts. His appearance on the Lookout Landing Podcast is a personal favorite of mine, he is an ardent supporter of his teammates, and from the moment he joined the team he wasn’t afraid to start having some fun.

Taylor Trammell still faces questions about what his career, and this season in particular will look like. Because of his injury and recovery, the most pressing of those questions will likely not be answered by him, but rather by the health and performance of the likes of Kelenic, Marlowe, or perhaps even Hummel. When Trammell is ready to play again it may be less about the ability to prove himself and more about the opportunity to do so. I wouldn’t count him out though; in the seven years he’s been in pro ball he has never stopped working hard and keeping himself focused on his goals.