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The Fun Of Carlos Peguero

I don't think there's any denying that Carlos Peguero is not ready to be in the Major Leagues. He didn't do a good job of commanding the strike zone in the minors at any level, his other numbers weren't great outside of that, and you can see how challenging he's finding the bigs just by watching one or two of his at bats. He's taking pitches in the middle of the zone. He's flailing at pitches well out of the zone. Nearly half of the swings he's taken to date have missed. And it's not like he's making up for anything with his passable but by no means remarkable defense.

Carlos Peguero is the kind of guy you could see posting a .250 OBP if given a full season's worth of at bats. It's not that I think he won't ever develop; it's that I don't think he's developed enough to look like he knows what he's doing against the highest level of competition. Not yet. Not at the age of 24.

And yet, over Peguero's first 25 trips to the plate with Seattle, he's hit two home runs. Two home runs off offspeed pitches, no less. Last Friday, he took a Fausto Carmona changeup 451 feet out to right-center. And last night, he ripped a line drive off a Scott Baker slider that just tucked itself inside the right field foul pole. Hit Tracker Online shows that Peguero's homer off Baker is the lowest home run of the season, never getting more than 39 feet off the ground. It was reminiscent of Mark McGwire's #62, and it was the kind of line drive that requires a certain amount of brute strength to get out.

Carlos Peguero is a powerful man. This isn't news. There was a lot of chatter about the impressive home runs he hit in spring training, and his power is the reason he's up with the Mariners right now. In any given at bat, Carlos Peguero is a threat to go yard. And that's what makes watching him - and other prospects like him - so much fun.

We all know that Peguero has a poor approach. Any time he comes to the plate, expectation #1 is that he's going to whiff on three or four pitches, any number of which may be breaking balls down and out of the zone. He has frequently been made to look helpless. But just as that stands as the expectation, there also exists the simultaneous hope that Peguero will get into one and send it 450 feet. The thing about powerful hackers is that, while a lot of their swings miss, their swings also have the potential to blast a pitch if they can actually make contact with it. And Carlos Peguero is one of the league's more powerful hackers.

I don't know how often Peguero would go deep if given 600 at bats. Maybe 15. Maybe 20. Maybe 30. He wouldn't push the league lead. But there's a difference between 20 home runs from Carlos Peguero and 20 home runs from, say, a Bobby Abreu. Even if their home run rates were to end up being similar, a Peguero home run would always feel more likely than an Abreu home run, because Peguero knocks more of the balls he actually hits over the fence, and then you're just rooting for contact. "All Carlos Peguero has to do is make contact, and he might hit a home run!" The human brain is ridiculous.

Carlos Peguero is almost certainly going to be a bad hitter for as long as he's up with the 2011 Mariners. Players with his approach just don't have success. But as he's shown in the early going, he can hit a home run completely out of nowhere, and for that reason, we'll always think, maybe. It doesn't matter who he's facing, or what the situation might be. Carlos Peguero could hit a home run. All he needs to do is make contact.