Game 135, Angels at Mariners
King Felix vs. Dan Haren, 7:10pm
Happy Felix Day! I don’t know if I’ve seen as jarring a contrast between consecutive days’ starters since Livan Hernandez followed Stephen Strasburg in July of last year. Haren and Hernandez are so good, so consistently excellent, that there’s not as much to say. They’re not bizarre like Anthony Vasquez, nor is their story as bizarre as Jerome Williams’. They’re just bizarrely talented pitchers, and thus this game holds the promise of genuine excitement, as opposed to the ersatz sideshow kind of excitement I talked about yesterday. I suppose I’ll make do.
In contrast to the heralded pitchers, two of the more important bats in the game were unknown or actively disparaged coming into the year. Mark Trumbo and Mike Carp are playing 1B due to injuries to the incumbents, both played many years in the minors, compiling a good-but-not-great record, and both players enjoyed break out years in the PCL. This isn’t to same they’re the same type of player exactly; they’re not. Trumbo was more of a Peguero type – someone who had great raw power, but couldn’t produce enough in game situations. Carp was the opposite – a patient hitter with gap power that just didn’t work with his defensive limitations.
Prospects change, hitters develop, coaches….coach. But I still can’t get over how *weird* it is that Mark Trumbo’s been one of the Angels better bats this year, or that Mike Carp is essentially tied with Dustin Ackley as the best hitter on the M’s. The Cardinals’ Allan Craig is another guy in this mold – someone with clear talent, but whose performance record never screamed “MLB starter.” If this was as simple as a scouts-vs-numbers argument, that’d be fine: I’d sincerely love to learn more about how to distinguish the Allan Craigs from the John Bowkers of the world (Philadelphia acquired Bowker today to shore up their bench, incidentally). But I don’t think it is. The tools scouts weren’t putting Mike Carp on any top prospect lists, they liked Greg Halman. Craig and Trumbo were rated C+ by John Sickels, and came in at #10/#11 respectively in their team prospect lists (Kevin Goldstein had Trumbo a bit higher, Craig a bit lower). Carp was a C in 2010, and wasn’t ranked in 2011. All of these guys had K rates between 15-20%, solid power numbers, but they tended to move slowly up the org ladder. Why is Mike Restovich bad (one of the better PCL hitters I saw around 8-9 years ago) and Craig good?
Sample size may be the easy answer, and if Trumbo regresses, I’ll be thrilled to revert to laughing at an Angels team with a 1B with an OBP under .300. But now I’m at the point where seeing Trumbo in the box is genuinely worrying. All I can do is hope that Angels fans are similarly troubled by Mike Carp, and hope that they’re as confused by their fear as I am about mine.
Incidentally, Trumbo against the Mariners: .340/.404/.762. Against everyone else? .249/.282/.458.
1: Ichiro (DH)
7: Wells (RF)
9: Robinson (LF)