Looking over the stats for a few different Mariner outfielders this year:
Carlos Peguero: 155 PA, 54 SO, 34.8 K%
Casper Wells: 103 PA, 36 SO, 35.0 K%
Trayvon Robinson: 95 PA, 35 SO, 36.8 K%
Greg Halman: 91 PA, 32 SO, 35.2 K%
Other than Peguero having a few more plate appearances, because he’s the one who got the biggest extended stretch of regular playing time back when the team had fewer options, those are some alarmingly similar numbers. We’ve discussed numerous times that for all their tools and raw power, Peguero and Halman will never be useful major leaguers with their current approach. It’s worth noting that neither was called up even when rosters expanded in September (although I don’t want to overemphasize that fact, considering that Michael Saunders is not all that far below this crew). While strikeouts are not necessarily worse than other kinds of outs, failing to make contact on this level generally makes it impossible to hit for a high average because you’re just not putting the ball in play enough. Both Halman and Wells have seen their batting averages collapse after hot starts with the team, illustrating how this plays out and reminding us of how much longer batting average takes to stabilize – two years or so, while all these guys are already approaching if not past the point where their strikeout rates would stabilize.
Now, the similarity in approach is not complete, because Wells and Robinson do walk more often: 6.8% and 6.3%, compared to 5.2% for Peguero and an appallingly bad 2.2% for Halman. Walk rate also takes a bit longer to stabilize than strikeout rate, so these numbers aren’t the final word, but it’s consistent with their past performances. Still, even those slightly higher rates are not exactly all that good.
For some finer detail, check out their plate discipline stats from Fangraphs:
To generalize a little bit around these numbers, the guys on the team whose approaches most resemble Peguero and Halman are Wily Mo Pena and Miguel Olivo. Neither of those is exactly a good role model. Halman is perhaps just swinging too much overall, while Peguero desperately needs to lay off bad pitches. Wells and Robinson are closer to the profile shown by Mike Carp. That might be encouraging in a sense, but it also looks like Carp has really gotten more aggressive and sacrificed plate discipline to go for power the last couple years. The difference is enough to make them useful, but not exactly great players.