Mariners 2011 Season Overview: Mike Carp & Dustin Ackley

Most people, if they were in my shoes, would single out Dustin Ackley and give him his own post.  Ehh, I see that logic, because ultimately he’ll probably be better and a more valuable asset to the team (considering he’s a 2nd baseman doing what he’s doing), but this is a 2011 Season Overview; not a projection of things to come.

And, in 2011, these two players were just about dead-even in both their overall output and in their value to the team.  The Numbers:

Ackley:  333 ABs, .273 BA, .348 OBP, .765 OPS, 6 homers, 7 triples, 16 doubles, 79 K’s, 40 BB, 6 SB, 36 RBI

Carp:  290 ABs, .276 BA, .326 OPB, .792 OPS, 12 homers, 1 triple, 17 doubles, 81 K’s, 19 BB, 46 RBI

See?  Not all that much different!  Ackley’s better at getting on base, Carp has better power numbers.

I find everyone’s reaction to these two players to be fascinating.  Everyone is CONVINCED that Dustin Ackley will be a perennial All Star, even though he kinda sucked throughout most of September (batting only .219 in those games with only 5 extra-base hits and 32 of his 79 strikeouts).  If this were any other player, these same people who keep saying, “He’s ALL right!” would be worried about the league figuring him out.  I mean, it’s not like the guy even had to struggle through a full season; he played only 3.5 months in the Bigs.  What would his season have looked like had he started out from Day 1 in a Mariners uniform?  I contend:  it’s not outside the realm of possibility that his season would’ve looked a lot like Justin Smoak (with maybe less injury stuff getting in the way).

I’ll admit, I’m kinda one of those people who think that he’ll be fine.  That, as far as rookie seasons go, this is the best we probably could’ve hoped for and there’s only room for him to grow as a hitter.  BUT, unlike those other people, I’m not quite ready to throw Mike Carp out of town (or in a hopeless platoon situation).

I don’t know what it is about Carp.  His age?  His lack of hype?  The fact that he kinda looks like Quasimodo without the hump?  Whatever the case, facts are facts:  Mike Carp was the best overall hitter the Mariners had last season.  And he hardly even played half a season!  He didn’t strike out as much as Olivo; he didn’t slump as much as Smoak; he hit for better power than everyone else; and he can play left field, first base, or DH.  I know, it’s not ideal (ideal would be Carp being an excellent third baseman), but you know what it is?  Cheap.  Mike Carp comes cheap.  He can plug a hole at one of three spots in the lineup, thereby allowing us to go out and get a bigtime left fielder, third baseman, or first baseman/designated hitter.  We don’t have to go out and fill ALL of those spots because we’ve got one of them covered right here in our own backyard!

While I’m not in a huge hurry to see him ran out of town, I understand the rationale.  On the one hand, he could be an Edgar Martinez type of doubles hitter from the left side of the plate.  Yeah, Carp will strike out more, yeah, he probably won’t hit for as high an average, but I said he’s that TYPE.  And, on the other end of that spectrum, he could be something of a Chris Snelling type.  You know, a guy who comes out of nowhere, impresses over a short period of time, then goes on to do absolutely nothing.  You want to trade away those Chris Snelling types at the height of their value.  Mike Carp’s value will probably never be higher.  So, if the team is convinced this is as good as it gets with him, then yeah, I guess moving on.

I understand this team can’t just trot out the same lineup next season and hope for better results.  That’s the very definition of insanity.  This lineup, for the past couple seasons, has figuratively been INSANE.  But, we only have so much money to throw around.  That’s the blessing and curse of our current ownership (the blessing being:  there are enough minority owners with local ties to ensure we at least HAVE a baseball team in this city).  Carp and Ackley, for the time being, are low-cost guys producing at a fairly high level.

I just don’t want to see Carp end up as a Mike Morse type (you know, the guy who was good, kept getting injured, ran out of chances, was traded, and then blew up with his next team).  If he’s going to be good (which I believe he will be), then I want him to be good HERE.  Guys who were given a fair shake with a team they came up with (I know he wasn’t drafted by us, but we traded for him as a minor leaguer) are more likely to re-sign with that team at a reasonable cost.

I don’t know what our lineup is going to look like in 2011 (best guess as things stand at the moment:  Ichiro, Guti, Ackley, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Left Field, Third Base, Ryan), but I do know that if we’re going to field a somewhat competent team, we’re going to need guys like Carp and Ackley rounding things out on the lower end of the payroll.

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