A Big Fish in a Small Pond?

My first fanpost. Feedback is appreciated!

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Mike Carp has received a lot of attention recently due to a great start to the season that has seen him hit .306/.367/.588 in Tacoma. Despite his success, he has his fair share of detractors, including one Dave Cameron:

He has no value. Tacoma is basically playing in a new stadium this year, and they lowered the right field wall from 20 feet to 8 feet. Take power numbers there with a grain of salt, especially for LH hitters.

While Mike Carp is no destroyer of worlds, to say he has no value seems extreme. He hit 29 homers last year in 463 plate appearances in AAA, and he has yet to turn 25 years old, so there could be reason to believe this improvement is for real.

With such little data, it would be difficult to determine what kind of affect the Cheney renovation has had on power numbers there, but lowering the fence by 12 feet would seem to support the idea of a lefty-favorable park. But Mike Carp has actually hit more home runs on the road than at home-of his 12 homers, seven of them have been hit outside of Cheney.

Five of his seven road homers came in two games-two at Round Rock and three at New Orleans. Both stadiums have weighted park averages of .97 for home runs, according to the Baseball Think Factory. While both games involved lots of scoring by the Rainiers, and it was likely simply Carp punishing bad pitching, his home runs do not appear to have been aided by the environment.

Carp's other two home runs did come in hitters' parks in Fresno and Salt Lake, each with a park factor over 1.09. But they weren't hit in Cheney; so to say that Carp's numbers are meaningless because of the renovation seems invalid.

The five dingers he did launch in Cheney were all hit to either right or right center field, according to game recaps. Two were hit on "line drives" while the official scorer classified the other three as fly balls. Now, this is by no means an objective classification. But it could be said that line drives would benefit more from a shorter fence, because of their lower average altitude.

Even if, for example, the two line drives would have been doubles in other stadiums, Carp would still be posting a fairly impressive line in AAA-certainly worthy of a call-up. When Peguero was brought up from Tacoma, he was hitting .282/.345/.456 through 25 games with four home runs. Peguero is also a lefty, so he would have been benefiting from the same park benefits that Carp allegedly has. And he did it while posting a .26 BB/K rate, two thirds that of Carp's current .39. Carp still strikes out a lot, but has shown a better understanding of the strike zone than Peguero. Granted, that's not saying much.

Besides, what's wrong with Carp playing in a ballpark that's favorable to left-handed hitters? I seem to remember the Mariners play in a stadium that has a pretty short right-field porch as well. If Carp is succeeding in similar dimensions in Tacoma, why not give him a shot?

Aside from the sun ball and his two home runs, Peguero hasn't exactly lit up major league pitching. And while Carp is not really an outfielder, I find it hard to imagine that he could be any worse in LF than Peguero. The evidence seems to suggest that Carp deserves a shot, so why not give him one? If all it costs is Carlos Peguero, I fail to see the downside; because even if Carp has zero value, that's still better than Peguero.        

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