Let’s be clear: Mike Carp is not the Mariners’ offensive savior.
He’s just not. Yes, he put up some incredible numbers in Triple A Tacoma. They are the kind of numbers you don’t see on anywhere on a Seattle stat sheet.
Let’s take a look.
Batting average: .348 (78-for-224)
On-base percentage: .409
Slugging percentage: .661
Home runs: 19
Well to expect that from him at the big league level would be unfair to him. If it was a given that Carp could put up those kinds of numbers in Seattle, or anything even close to them, he’d have been up a month ago.
Remember, this isn’t Triple A. It’s going to be difficult to replicate that type of success. Carp put up solid numbers with Rainiers the past, and it didn’t always carry over into big league success.
In two separate call-ups – one in 2009 and another 2010 - Carp has played in 35 major league games and has 106 plate appearances. He hit a .264 (24-for-91) with a .358 OBP and a .374 slugging percentage with five doubles, a homer and five RBI.
To be fair, Carp is a different player now. At age 24, he decided this offseason to get more serious about his career. He put in some time in the gym, working out and changing his body. He dropped pounds and added muscle. He’s looks visibly different. And it shows in the way he plays. He moves better. He hits the ball harder. He looks more like an athlete and less like John Kruk. And Carp’s continued to work at it during the season. He gets it now.
Carp’s approach at the plate has been better. He just has a greater understanding of what pitchers are trying to do to him and what he needs to do have success. But of course, it helps that he’s spent over the last two seasons in Triple A.
So if if is not fair to expect Carp to produce gaudy numbers for the Mariners, what is fair to expect?
Well, you can and should expect a more mature approach at the plate. He wont' strike out as much as Greg Halman and Carlos Peguero, but he won't hit massive home runs. Carp probably won’t be a pure power hitter. He can and will hit a home run or two, but he could also get you some doubles and hard hit line drives. The highest ceiling is probably.270 to .280 and a .350 OBP and plus .450 slugging, the Mariners would take that in a second. It would make him one of the best hitters on this team.
Obviously, we don’t know exactly how manager Eric Wedge will use Carp. Will it be in left field? Will it be at DH? It will probably be a combination of both.
He will play and needs to play.
But expecting Carp to save the Mariners offense is unfair to him and to big league pitching. Will he make their offense better? Probably. Anything past that is a bonus. For the Mariners' offense to get better, it isn't going to be the addition of Carp, it's going to be players like Ichiro and Chone Figgins and Jack Cust starting to hit again.
Mike Carp deserved to be called up. He's earned this chance with the work he's done in the offseason and the numbers he put in Triple A. But let's keep the expectations realistic. Is he going to fix the Mariners' offense? No. But he should make it better.