Sometimes, it just takes 10 years to become an overnight success.
Just ask the ugly duckling, that one girl everyone knows who became really attractive one summer or Mariners slugger Mike Carp.
I couldn't help but smile at the ovation Carp received at the game on Friday, in front of a crowd appreciative of their most productive hitter for the past few weeks. Since his call-up on July 19, he has hit for a .372 average with four home runs and 21 RBI.
Carp's latest success at the plate has many Mariners fans forgetting the "4A" label they slapped on him after he was unable to duplicate his Triple-A numbers.
His moment to shine has been been eight years in the making, since he was a rookie in the New York Mets organization back in 2004. Carp never advanced past Double-A in five years before being dealt to Seattle in 2009, going back and forth between Tacoma and Seattle.
Now, in Carp's first real shot at regular playing time, it seems he's found his stroke. Never given a fair opportunity to play on an everyday basis, it's reasonable to say that he wasn't used properly until now.
With a more aggressive approach at the plate and increased power in his swing, Carp has taken the next step and become a reliable hitter at the major league level— something he didn't show before. In addition, he's been able to hit lefty pitchers with great success, going 10 for 27.
Although Carp's average on balls in play (BaBIP) is .464, it's partially justified by his 29 percent line drive rate. In other words, he's been smacking the ball so hard that many more balls are able to find their way as base hits.
Obviously, the success can't be sustained (unless he becomes Adrian Gonzalez 2.0), and he will have to battle out of inevitable slumps as pitchers figure him out, but Carp's first real shot in the majors at age 25 has everyone on their feet.
This is a hitter who looks to have translated his game to the major league level, in more of a Dustin Ackley way than Greg Halman.
Expect Carp to cool down some soon but don't be surprised at all if he finishes the year with a .290 average. If he can do this, he will be hands down the biggest surprise on the season.
And isn't Mike Carp what this year was supposed to be about? Forgoing competing to find out what you have in your young players?
Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley were elite talents and success of some degree was to be expected— they were considered the future stars of their position.
But with Carp, the Mariners are pleasantly surprised to suddenly find a hole shored up— the designated hitter position that has been poorly addressed since Edgar Martinez's retirement.
The team can go into the offseason without as big of a need to break the bank on a Prince Fielder, and they've found some sort of protection for Ackley as well.
It's only 21 games, but the oft-disregarded Mike Carp could be the biggest find this season for the Seattle Mariners.
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