Solving the Power Outage: Internal Solutions


In my last article, I talked about the Mariner’s lack of power and dismissed the ideas of moving in Safeco’s fences or trading for a legitimate cleanup hitter. I believe that at this point, Seattle’s best course of action would be staying put and sticking with what they have. While this may seem like raising the white flag, I think that the pieces that the Mariners currently have can actually serve as run producers this season. That’s right, THIS season.

I’m not saying that I think that M’s offense will suddenly hit 180 homeruns and score 800 runs, but I do think that they are capable of dramatically increasing their production in the upcoming season and making Seattle a respectable offense that is capable of scoring more than the league low 3.4 runs per game they scrapped together last year.

The first in-house guy who will solve the power outage is Justin Smoak. Last year, Smoak had a great first half of the season, but he struggled later due to slumps and an injury inflicted by a bad hop. If you look at just his first half, he had some nice production, hitting twelve homeruns. This came out to an average of about one homerun for every 21.9 at bats. For a point of reference, the Mariner’s first baseman hit homeruns on a more consistent basis than some of the biggest names in baseball like Robinson Cano, who hit a homerun every 22.25 at bats, (in a very hitter friendly ballpark) and Adrian Gonzalez who hit a homerun every 23.33 at bats. That is very impressive company for the second year first baseman.

Because of injuries, Smoak missed many plate appearances. If he had kept his homerun pace of one homerun per every 21.9 at bats and had also received the same amount of at bats as Albert Pujols, Smoak would have hit 26 homeruns last year. Of course, you can’t expect a batter to be at his best all the time, and you certainly can’t expect the Mariner’s to role their lineup over as well as the Cardinals did last year, I just wanted to demonstrate what, in ideal situations, Justin Smoak is capable of.

Also remember that Justin was a 24 year old sophomore in baseball last year, who was grieving the passing of his father. Those stats can only get better in the future. Another source of encouragement for M’s fans is the fact that Smoak appears to be capable of hitting homeruns at Safeco. Ten of his fifteen round trippers were hit at home. I think that with an injury-free season and more consistent at bats, Justin Smoak will crank out over 20 homeruns this year and be the run producer that the M’s haven’t had since Raul Ibanez.

The next player I expect to become a main contributor on offense is Mike Carp. Awhile back, I was thinking about Carp and trying to find a guy I could compare him to. Jason Kubel came to mind. Kubel has been a Twin since he was drafted in 2000 and has been a consistent bat from 2008 until now. He signed this offseason with the Diamond backs for around eight million dollars. Carp and Kubel are both lefties and both play the same position. Carp is two inches taller than Kubel, and Kubel weighs about ten pound more than Carp, but overall they have similar body types. In addition, both of these two were similar in the fact that both had a few unsuccessful stints in the major leagues before they seemed to find their niche.

Both of these guys had their first semi-successful years when they were 25 years old. Let’s compare Kubel’s 2007 stats as a 25 year old to Carp’s season last year as a 25 year old.

Mike Carp 2011

Jason Kubel 2007

AVG

.276

.273

HR

12

13

OBP

.326

.335

SLG

.466

.450

OPS

.791

.785

wOBA

.341

.342

 

Jason Kubel

From this small sample size, you can see how similar the two hitters were in their years as 25 year olds. In the season after Kubel’s 2008 year, he hit 20 homeruns and hit .272 with a .805 OPS. In the year after that, Kubel hit .300 with 28 homeruns, .907 OPS, .327 BABIP, and .383 wOBA; a very impressive year.

I’m not saying that Carp will have an all-star caliber year in 2013, but the similarities between Kubel and Carp are certainly encouraging, or at least a good excuse for Mariner fans to be optimistic.

I honestly do think that Carp will have a nice year this season. Not only will he have an opportunity to start on an everyday basis for the first time in his career, but he showed great signs of progress last year. Mariner fans have always known that Carp had power, he was just never able to display it at the MLB level until last year. While watching a Tacoma Rainer game in late 2010, I saw Mike hit a ball onto the tennis courts at Foss high school. For those of you who haven’t been to Cheney Stadium, it was a shot over 100 feet beyond the right field wall and up a hill. Hopefully now that he has the opportunity, experience, and confidence under his belt, he will be able to show off that kind of power for the Mariners this year.

For right now, the Mariners won’t be leading the league in homeruns, but, with the help of Justin Smoak and Mike Carp, I think that the Mariners offense will be producing more runs this year than they have in the past.

Tags: Featured Justin Smoak Mike Carp Popular Seattle Mariners

  • maqman

    Having Ackley and Montero might hep too.

  • maqman

    Having Ackley and Montero might help too.

  • maqman

    Having Ackley and Montero might hep too.

  • maqman

    Having Ackley and Montero might help too.

  • Harrison_Crow

    Crazy talk.

  • Harrison_Crow

    Crazy talk.

  • Keith_12thMR

    I’m actually expecting big things from Casper Wells. He should be the everyday right fielder by the end of season if Ichiro doesn’t rebound. He’s got great power potential.

  • Keith_12thMR

    I’m actually expecting big things from Casper Wells. He should be the everyday right fielder by the end of season if Ichiro doesn’t rebound. He’s got great power potential.

  • JCondreay

    @Keith_12thMR Ya, I like Wells. I don’t see him taking Ichiro’s spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played on days that Montero caught. Then they would just move Carp to DH and let Casper take over in left. The especially encouraging thing about Wells was that he appeared to be able to hit for power in Safeco.

  • JCondreay

    @Keith_12thMR Ya, I like Wells. I don’t see him taking Ichiro’s spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played on days that Montero caught. Then they would just move Carp to DH and let Casper take over in left. The especially encouraging thing about Wells was that he appeared to be able to hit for power in Safeco.

  • MattyK

    I’m excited about a full, hopefully healthy, season from Smoak. I think you’re right not to peg him as a 30-HR guy. His history seems to suggest 20+ is more reasonable, but I didn’t even realize that he still put up a league average wOBA last season (park adjusted) even after going through all kinds of physical and emotional strain. I think that’s a tribute to not only just how well he did early, but his plate discipline (11%+ walk rate) throughout the rough months.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    I’m excited about a full, hopefully healthy, season from Smoak. I think you’re right not to peg him as a 30-HR guy. His history seems to suggest 20+ is more reasonable, but I didn’t even realize that he still put up a league average wOBA last season (park adjusted) even after going through all kinds of physical and emotional strain. I think that’s a tribute to not only just how well he did early, but his plate discipline (11%+ walk rate) throughout the rough months.

  • Keith_12thMR

    @MattyK The thing about Smoak that people tend to forget is that he injured both of his thumbs last season. One of the injuries was fairly severe too. Injuries to fingers are one thing, but injuries to thumbs can be disastrous to hitters.

    Had it not been for the injuries, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Smoak to have continued hitting all season like he did in the first half.

  • Keith_12thMR

    @MattyK The thing about Smoak that people tend to forget is that he injured both of his thumbs last season. One of the injuries was fairly severe too. Injuries to fingers are one thing, but injuries to thumbs can be disastrous to hitters.

    Had it not been for the injuries, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Smoak to have continued hitting all season like he did in the first half.