Mar 15, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Mike Carp (right) is congratulated by right fielder Casper Wells (33) after he hit a two run home run to drive Wells in during the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at the Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Casper Wells or Mike Carp?

Last night Mike Carp went 2 for 4 with a double and home run. Tonight Casper Wells went 2 for 4 with a homer and single. Neither player has been a standout this season, and neither player is representing their true potential. Still, one of them has to play, but who? Which player is going to turn things around first and give them team the best results on the field.

First of all the argument can still be made that the players should platoon. I have a few problems with this argument. One, neither players has traditional splits, as both fair well against their fellow handed persons. Secondly if you’re trying to get both or one of these two players going, it isn’t going to happen by sapping at bats from them with platoon style play. So while a platoon might seem like a feasible solution at first glance, in actuality it wouldn’t work in the Mariners favor.

So realistically the Mariners are going to have to choose. Casper or Mike. Struggling power hitting righty? Struggling power hitting lefty? Both players are strikingly similar. Even better, they have a similar number of at bats so their career stats are easily comparable. A look at the numbers isn’t all that revealing, at least not right away.

2012/ Career Mike Carp Casper Wells
wOBA .280/ .334 .278/ .340
OBP .219/ .326 .281/ .326
SLG .433/ .443 .345/ .460
BABIP .136/ .321 .333/ .326
ISO .267/ .178 .138/ .202
K 18.8/ 23.3 34.4/ 27.2
BB 6.3/ 7.3 9.4/ 7.3

For this season, ABs and wOBA are almost exactly the same. All things after that, are drastically different. Everything 2012 is very small sample size, which means many of these stats have yet to stabilize.  With that in mind this is only an attempt to figure out who the Mariners should stick with going forward. To start things off, Carp has been terribly unlucky. His .136 BABIP is ridiculously low for a guy with a .321 career average in the same stat. So my one pitch in favor of Carp is that I will be interested to see what happens when that stat stabilizes. However, this isn’t an 2008 Adrian Beltre situation, Carp isn’t hitting any line drives, (he is sitting a horrid 8.3%), so while he is getting unlucky, this isn’t the hitting-laser-beams-straight-into-infielders-gloves unlucky. Wells isn’t much better in the line drive department, both players are well below their career averages.

So what gives one the edge over the other? Nothing really. There is nothing right now that can make you say Carp should start over Wells, or that Wells should start over Carp. This is simply going to take more time. Both players are going to have to get some more at bats under their belts before a real decision can be made.

My gut, which is entirely worthless, leans towards Wells. He doesn’t suffer from extreme splits and after his initial audition I want to see what he is capable of doing with regular playing time. My brain however says Carp. He isn’t going to continue to suffer from BABIP woes and his LD% isn’t going to stay at horrifically low levels. Carp’s luck is going to eventually turn around and so are the numbers. Wells career numbers are slightly better than Carp in every department, but Carp just rediscovered himself. His numbers don’t truly reflect the new version of Carp.

This is tough.

The Mariners should get them both in the lineup everyday here over the next few games, see if one of them takes off. With time on his side, I have to believe that Carp could come out and grab this thing, with Wells being the unfortunate recipient of a wooden plank or two. Wells has really been given a raw deal this entire season. After a poor spring, he wasn’t even given a chance to play and now he is having to play catch up. Having to play catch up with irregular at bats is a nearly impossible task. Wells is swimming against current as he has all season.

I have no idea who should play over who. The sample is just too small from both players. This is just something I wanted to plant in the back of your minds; something to think about. Perhaps you can draw upon this article some time in the future.


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Tags: Casper Wells Mike Carp

  • Keith_12thMR

    The correct answer is both. Wells can play CF, and should be getting playing time over Saunders who’s returned to his pre-2012 level of worthlessness. Getting both out there on the field gives this team the best chance to win.
    I know a lot of fans love Saunders for reasons that make absolutely no sense, but I don’t really care. He’s been nothing but garbage at the plate for 3 years, and after a hot streak to start the season, he’s returned to that level of garbage in recent weeks. The guy is in his 4th year, and is still one of the worst hitters in all of baseball.

  • MattyK

     @Keith_12thMR In support of Keith, I would like to point out that since 2010, Saunders and Figgins each have a wRC+ of 70. 
    Figgins may be excellent company at a dinner party — I have no idea of his wit — but he is not good company when it comes to hitting a baseball. 

  • Harrison_Crow

    I don’t really understand why you guys hate on him so much. The talk before the season started and even YOU keith admitted he didn’t have to hit much to be worth his defense in center. Right now he’s wRC+ of 102 and despite the fact that he’s 5 for his last 30 with 10 strike outs he also has 4 walks and has driven the ball really well.
    Is he an all-star? Hardly… but his speed, power and defensive ability make him the worth while candidate in center over Wells and anyone on the 40-man. You all know me, I love me some Casper Wells but Wells is the right handed version of Saunders with less speed.
    Mike Carp should be the DH to help him focus on his swing and timing, Wells should be in Left –he’s heads and tails better than Carp– and Saunders in Center.
    Jaso can take a a day or two vs. Righties in the DH slot during the week and even spell Montero a couple of games behind the plate too.
    Boom, fixed.
    Hate on haters.

  • MattyK

     @Harrison_Crow I agree that Saunders has been worth having out there so far this season. But his strikeout rates and swinging strike rates are even worse than in past years. If he doesn’t maintain his 20 HR / 600 PA rate, then his offensive value tanks. 
    On that note, while his physical tools suggest he can maintain that rate, before this season he had 12 HR in 635 PA. 
    For his career, Saunders is much better against righties (wRC+ 71 vs. 43). And I’m just not ready to put too much stock into his 25 plate appearances against lefties this season. 
    However, with Carp unable to play center, there’s really no one to platoon with Saunders. So maybe we should just run him out there every day and see if his home run rate and wOBA stabilize…350 PA here we come!
    I think we should look at some color charts later today….

  • Mariner_Melee

     @MattyK Something that hasn’t been considered is what happens when Guti comes back? You then have a Saunders, Wells, Guti, and Carp log jam.

  • Mariner_Melee

     @Harrison_Crow Such passion! Such hutzpah! Harrison for manager. 

  • Harrison_Crow

    While Saunders is swinging and missig more, you could understand my point of view in the need to look at what he is swinging and missing at.
    Looking at Texas Leaguers what the book since May 1st, appears to be to throw curveballs away. Which he is swinging and missing over HALF the time he actually swings.
    He still needs to be able to go the other way with pitches as if you look at how pitchers are attacking him they leave a large percentage of pitches away out over the plate. Until he does learn to take advantage of that he’s not ever going to consistently hit well.

  • MattyK

     @Harrison_Crow No I see what you’re saying. They can’t fix it if they don’t know what exactly is broken. And only sample size can say what’s broken.
    I need to delve into Texas Leaguers more often!

  • MattyK

     @Mariner_Melee  @Harrison_Crow 
    chutz·pa   [khoot-spuh, hoot] noun Slang
    1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence.
    Of course, then I had to look up “unmitigated,” “effrontery” and “impudence.” Stats degrees are worthless sometimes…

  • Keith_12thMR

     @Harrison_Crow Saunders had a wRC+ of 141 after 3 weeks. then he stopped hitting. Since then it’s been 64, which is exactly his career average. The first three weeks were a complete fluke. They aren’t an indication of anything.
    I know we agreed that he didn’t have to hit much because of his defense, but his defense isn’t that good. If he can’t maintain a wRC+ of at least around 80, then he needs to take a seat. There’s no way he deserves playing time more than once a week or so if he can’t hit better than a wRC+ in the 60s. He just doesn’t.
    Saunders isn’t the left handed version of Wells. not even close. Saunders has a career wRC+ of 64, and thats over 3+ years.
    Stop trying to make him something he’s not.

  • Harrison_Crow

     @Keith_12thMR  You can’t say that the first part of his season is a fluke and then say that what he’s done this year in the field proves that he’s not a that good in the field. He’s an above average fielder and 3 years of data between UZR, FSR and DRS backs that up.
    As for his hitting ability it’s important to look at the past problems that he’s had and use that as a baseline to compare his current abilities and identify what to look forward when watching him try and correct it.
    One of those lost abilities was the understanding of the strike zone. A trait that he previously displayed in the minor leagues but never effectively transitioned to the big league. 
    This year he’s improved in this area. Laying off more pitches out of the zone. He’s being more aggressive early in counts jumping on fastballs out over the plate and has done an effective job in the first month making contact and driving the ball.
    He’s obviously made adjustments at the plate. Anyone that’s watch games even if it was just the last three at Yankee stadium can see he’s improved at the plate this year over previous years. He’s driving the ball and he’s regained that bat speed he had previously lost with adjustments in his mechanics.
    The problem is now the leagues made an adjustment to him. He’s not seeing early fastballs. He’s seeing curveballs away and this has been a particular problem for Saunders and he’s not shown the ability to consistently lay off the pitch or make contact. 
    What he needs to do is identify off-speed pitches that are particularly being thrown early in the count and go the other way with them or just simply lay off. This is what is going to define whether Saunders is ever going to be worthy of an every day job or not. 
    He’s turning on plus velocity and even has learned on occasion to go the other way. He’s got too much physical talent just to ignore him in this situation.
    He’s got one year left until arbitration and has the highest ceiling of any out fielder in the organization currently (that would obviously change if the Mariners obtained the services of Byron Buxton). 
    I’m not about labels and/or statuses. But there is a obvious reason that organizations such as Perfect Game and Baseball America were as high on Saunders as a prep and minor league prospect as they were. And why this organization hasn’t yet abandoned him as a project. 
    Sure, this experiment is on it’s final twain. But rather than complain about it why not just enjoy the story line as it plays out and is one of the more interesting developments this season.
    No one (who was objective and honest) saw this step forward from Saunders and with Guti out, this becomes Saunders last opportunity in this organization. It just makes sense to run with it.
    As for Wells, he swings and misses way too much. His ability to make contact is possibly just as bad as Saunders. His defense is good, but not as good, and Wells is what he is. He doesn’t have a lot of levels or much evolution really left to him.  
    That’s not a bad thing. Well’s still can prove he may have the ability to be an every day corner outfielder. That’s good, but that’s where it ends. Saunders, ceiling is an above average center fielder. 
    I get that this has been an excruciating and long road, that, in reality he’s burned every real chance that he has been given. But he’s one of the hardest working guys in this organization and he ran into a little personal luck with Gutierrez season being delayed. 
    I would have rather cut Saunders and had a healthy Gutierrez start the season but with all the what if’s in the evolution of a player progression why give up on a 25-year old hard working player who has the best upside at that specific position in the entire organization when really there is much forcing to do otherwise.
    I don’t think it’s all together terrible to have Wells in center. But seeing the physical adjustments that have been made to Saunders, I’m interested in seeing him play more than once a week or relegated to “riding the pine” for the sake of he’s just doing terrible, has been terrible and will always be terrible.
    As I said, I understand the frustration. But we can just suffice it to say that you aren’t a fan and prefer Casper Wells in center. We don’t need to go any further.

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