Carlos Peguero has been a subject of much frustration since his initial call up last season. While Peguero displayed outstanding power, he also illustrated a dizzying strikeout problem and an acute inability to make contact with those bendy things. As the poor results continued to pile up, so did the frustration.
As the end Spring Training approaches, it appears as though Peguero is having a great spring… at least on the surface. If you apply his current pace over the course of a full season, Peguero is on track to smash 53 home runs. Mighty impressive is it not? Well don’t go carving his name into any MVP trophies just yet, in addition to his projected power numbers he is also on pace for 191 strikeouts and just 21 unintentional walks. Instead of a three true outcome player, he appears to have just one. One true outcome. This kind of production could be tied to all sorts of negative connotations including: Ineffective, inadequate, inferior, inept, etc. Aggravated fans might be asking themselves, “Why can’t he just discover some plate discipline? Then Seattle might actually have a useful player on their hands.” But truth be told, he isn’t that far away.
There is a player in the league today who is succeeding with a skill-set not that dissimilar to Carlos Peguero’s.
In 534 at bats last season, Reynolds hit 37 HRs, while amassing 198 Ks and 75 BBs. He is a one true outcome player, just like Peguero. Reynolds of course has one skill that is moderately better than Peguero, the ability to draw walks. Our dear free swinger unfortunately has never had this ability. In approximately 2100 minor league at bats, Carlos has average a measly 13.7 walks. That’s the bad news. The good news? In the two seasons in which he managed more than 450 AB’s he drew 42 and 56 walks back-to-back. Over the course of a full season that is right around 60 or so walks. Outstanding? Not really. Respectable? Not even close. But will it work? Probably. He isn’t going to hit 50 bombs as his current pace suggest, he may not even have the ability to hit 40. But 30-35 home runs is well within the realm of possibility. Pair that with 40-60 free passes, sprinkle in a few other extra base hits, and a little luck and suddenly Seattle has a comparable asset to that of Baltimore’s Reynolds. Defensive value has yet to even be equated and while neither players would be considered even average with the leather, Reynolds is an annual recipient of the iron glove award, while Peguero is just slightly below average in the field. Defense is never going to add value to either of their games, so it becomes a situation of which player can hurt their WAR the least. Mark has never put up a negative WAR season, ranging from 0.3 to 3.5, a range that many believe Peguero is incapable of settling into. It isn’t impossible, but a lot of work is going to be necessary if Peguero would like to avoid another negative season.
Not convinced? Enter Josh Wililingham, a player that has been desired by Seattle fans for the last 2-3 years. Willingham swung and missed 150 times last year, while only drawing 56 walks. His power output is right around what Seattle should expect from Peguero as well, clearing the fences 29 times last season. Willingham does however, make contact at a much better rate than Peguero is ever going to be capable of. A 78% lifetime contact rate is probably a good 6-9% higher than Carlos’s peak. On the other hand Peguero’s ceiling in terms of power is considerably higher than Willingham’s and his left handed swing is much better suited for SafeCo Field. The Glove work for each outfielder is again nothing to write home about and will only add negative value in terms of wins. Willingham has been able to create sustained success due to good contact rates, but Peguero can easily match, his power output, which would be the point anyways.
Still not convinced? Andruw Jones, Russell Branyan, and our very own Miguel Olivo have had intermittent seasons in which they exhibited reflections of one true outcome players. Not a single one of those players, with perhaps the exception of Jones, has ever been considered a star–but they have been desired. The Mariners have even been connected to Willingham and Reynolds in trade rumors the past few years. Peguero could be capable of occupying these billets the Mariners were attempted to fill with outside talent.
Peguero is never going to be a star, for he lacks too many skills. But it is important not to dismiss him as a useless player just yet. In power, he possess a skill the Mariners organization sorely lacks. The Mariners have attempted to bring in players will similar abilities in the past few years. As a discalimer, all the players that Seattle has attempted to acquire have proven they are capable of hitting the breaking ball, something Peguero still has to learn. If he is going to be on the roster, we might as well see if he can add value with a one-dimensional toolbox.
Well, if they aren’t going to play Casper Wells anyways.