A Few Words On Mike Carp
Mike Carp just hit another home run for Tacoma, his 17th of the season. Now, before you get too excited, you should probably know that it came off Bobby Kielty. Yes, the outfielder; he was on the mound because the game was a blow-out and Tucson was conserving their pitching staff. So, yeah, maybe don’t get too excited about that home run. Still, Carp did go 2-4 with a walk before launching the homer off a non-pitcher, and his average is now up to .341, so I’m sure the calls for Carp to be promoted will only continue to get louder this week.
However, before you buy your ticket for the Mike Carp bandwagon, I just want to throw this out there:
2010: 8.9% BB%, 22.7% K%, .259 ISO
2011: 8.1% BB%, 20.2% K%, .293 ISO
While Carp is showing a bit more power this year, the vast majority of improvement in his line for Tacoma a year ago and his line this year is in his BABIP, which is significantly less predictive than the core metrics above. After posting a .259 BABIP last year (probably a bit below his true talent level), Carp is at .359 this year, almost certainly above his true talent mark. Slow power hitters usually post marks a bit below the Major League average, which is currently sitting at around .290 – if you were going to project Carp’s BABIP upon getting called up, you’d likely have him somewhere in that range, and that would cause all of his rate stats (BA/OBP/SLG) to tumble quite a bit from their current lofty heights.
Of course, if Carp actually could sustain the near-.300 ISO he’s putting up now, his BABIP wouldn’t matter much, as he’d basically be Ryan Howard. However, playing in the PCL is certainly helping Carp put up these nutso power numbers, and Carp hasn’t exactly come up and hit moon shots in his two prior stints in the big leagues. Maybe he’s made some changes and added some real thump, but in general, betting on big power spikes from guys in the PCL is a fool’s errand. For example, Carp is currently being outhit by Bryan LaHair; these parks can make scrubs look good.
Given that Carp is almost certainly a pretty bad defensive outfielder, and that his offensive surge is based around a lot of balls not being caught by opposing defenders, I understand the Mariners reticence to call him up. I’m not opposing a call-up, necessarily, as Carlos Peguero is not a Major League player and Mike Carp might be, but I do think that some perspective is needed when looking at Carp’s gaudy numbers.
The M’s may get to a point where they agree that Carp has just forced their hand, and they give him an audition in left field. His performance since the beginning of May certainly makes him hard to ignore. However, I don’t see much evidence that Carp has suddenly transformed as a hitter, and I wouldn’t expect an offensive monster if he does get called up. He might be better than Peguero, but that’s not saying much, and I don’t think the team should view him as the answer to their left field problems.