Update: If I could write this post again, I'd take a slightly different angle. It is encouraging that we have a good explanation for Wells' recent struggles at the plate. But it is not encouraging that the explanation is an as-yet undiagnosed neurological problem. The probability is that the matter with Wells is relatively minor, but the chance exists that it is very much not, and I feel like I got a bit ahead of myself. Hopefully we get an answer soon, and it is a treatable one.
Casper Wells hasn't played since last Friday due to what the team is calling an equilibrium issue, and he's essentially been shut down for the rest of the season, which sounds more significant than it is given that the season ends next Wednesday. Even before Wells started missing time, though, he'd been struggling, picking up just three hits in his previous 15 games. He didn't look like the player for whom the Mariners had traded at the end of July.
Well, kind of good news: he wasn't. From Larry LaRue:
"... the last few weeks, I couldn’t pick up the fastball [...] At first I thought it was my eyes, then I thought maybe some kind of sinus infection. In the outfield, I was having trouble seeing the ball. At the plate, the only thing I could really pick up was the curve, and I hit one for a home run in the Texas series at home."
I say "kind of good news" because Wells has seen a few doctors, and they have yet to identify the problem. Any unexplained medical issue is always going to be a cause for concern until the answer is found, and the issue is taken care of.
But let's say that the answer is found, and taken care of, and isn't that big of a deal. It's easy to understand why these symptoms would've caused Wells to struggle the way that he did, and from there, it's easy to be optimistic that, once the symptoms are gone, Wells will be back to normal.
We aren't given a date for when Wells' problems began. One figures he wasn't having these problems when he homered four times in four days, but let's just take his Seattle numbers overall:
And now his 2010-2011 Detroit numbers overall:
That's a pretty substantial split. The numbers don't behave exactly the way we'd think they would - Wells was striking out a lot as a Mariner from the beginning - but there's a clear difference, and Wells offers a pretty convincing explanation. He's not just blaming something trivial. He had trouble seeing the baseball, as he's been dealing with vertigo.
If he can get past that, then going forward we should see a more productive version of Casper Wells than the one that we've seen. A version more like the one they had in Detroit - a version who looks like a solid everyday player.