Carlos Peguero Learning On The Job

Suffice to say that, when the Mariners brought up Carlos Peguero and stuck him in an outfield platoon, most of us were fairly skeptical. We were excited to watch Peguero, because Peguero was a new young player and new young players are always exciting, but our hopes weren't very high, because as strong as Peguero is, he didn't exactly come with much of a minor league track record. In high-A, he struck out more than four times as often as he walked. In AA, he struck out more than three times as often as he walked. In AAA, he struck out nearly four times as often as he walked. Peguero was strong, but he was undisciplined and unpolished, and he looked like the kind of guy who'd come up, post an OBP around .220, and head back down, a discouraged shell of a man.

And for some time, Peguero fulfilled our expectations. He hit a couple home runs, including a big one out of nowhere against Fausto Carmona that broke up a no-hitter, but at the end of May, his OBP was .210, and he had 22 strikeouts in 62 Major League trips to the plate. Peguero looked lost, and he looked like he was on the verge of returning to Tacoma, perhaps in exchange for Mike Carp.

Then things turned around a little bit. Peguero went deep twice against the Rays on June 2nd. Soon thereafter he posted a three-game hit streak, which is notable for a guy like him. And he started looking better to the eye. Over the past few weeks, Peguero has not only been a more successful hitter - he's looked like a more selective hitter.

And it shows up in the numbers. Let's ignore Peguero's brief time with the team in April, and focus on his time as a semi-regular in May and June. Data comes courtesy of Fangraphs, with OSwing% referring to Peguero's rate of swings at pitches out of the zone, ZSwing% referring to Peguero's rate of swings at pitches in the zone, and Contact% referring to Peguero's rate of hitting the ball when he swings.

Month O-Swing% Z-Swing% Contact%
May 55% 79% 68%
June 41% 75% 73%

The first thing to know is that we're limited by the quality of the data, and the data isn't perfect. These numbers aren't necessarily 100% accurate. But they're close, and the sample sizes aren't tiny.

And what we see is that Peguero has improved. The recent version of Peguero is still aggressive. He still has some of the higher swing rates in baseball. But in May, his O-Swing% was the highest. His overall Swing% was the highest. His Contact% was third-lowest. His June numbers don't stand out so much. His O-Swing% is high, but reasonable. His Contact% is low, but reasonable.

Carlos Peguero looks like he's learning, which goes along with the coaching staff's statements that he's proven to be coachable. Over the past few weeks, he has not been the mess that he was.

How much does it all mean? We'll have to see if this sticks, first of all. Improvements must not only be made, but sustained. Additionally, Peguero's still in a platoon, so it's not like he's suddenly emerging as a top young player. But we're looking at an aggressive, powerful 24-year-old who struck out 33% of the time in May, and 23% of the time so far in June. That's exciting, because Peguero's gotten better, and the improvement suggests he could get better still.

I'm not wild about Carlos Peguero, and I'm not convinced he has a great future in the Major Leagues, but I like him now more than I used to. There's a good player in there, and there are signs that the Mariners may be tracking him down.

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