Casper Wells

Jun 19, 2012, 4:36 PM

By Gary Hill

Casper Wells was sent down at the end of May and by then he had accumulated 10 hits in 47 at-bats through the first two months of the season. Since his return to MLB he has piled up 8 hits in 16 at-bats through 5 days. He had a Giant hand in the two wins over San Francisco at home and his season OPS has jumped from .664 to .808. He has started 4 of the past 5 M’s games- batting .500 with a double, a homer and a couple of runs driven in. To this point he has not been able to find consistent playing time. In the middle of April he started 4 games in a row, but there have been only two other times this season he had started two in a row. For the most part in 2012 his role has been to provide a right-handed platoon stick. There are two questions that rise when thinking about Wells.

1- Can he be more than just a platoon player?

2- Will he get a chance to prove it?

I will admit that I have been intrigued by Wells ever since he came over from Detroit in the Doug Fister deal. I have held the belief that he has the potential to be more than a platoon bat or 4th outfielder. First of all, his MLB splits are nearly right down the middle.

VS RHP in 202 PA- .269 BA/ .327 OBP/ .484 SLG/ .811 OPS

VS LHP- in 207 PA- .265 BA/ .340 OBP/ .454 SLG/ .794 OPS

He has been as effective versus RHP as LHP. He has primarily been used in a platoon role this year as a convenient way to get his bat in the lineup and as much to get a left-handed bat out of the order. The most appealing aspect to Wells offensively is his power. He smacked 27 HR’s in 2008 in the minors and 15 in just 86 games at AA in 2009. He split 2010 between AAA and the Tigers and launched 25. ISO is a good way of looking at raw power and his numbers have always been solid. ISO takes singles out of the equation completely and looks at just doubles, triples and homers. The best power hitters in baseball are generally around .300 while anything over .200 is considered very good. For example, the ISO leaders this year are:

Josh Hamilton- .343
Adam Dunn- .339
Mark Trumbo- .301
Joey Votto- .298
Ryan Braun- .298

If you want to look at the other end of the spectrum:

Kurt Suzuki- .054
Alexi Ramirez- .052
Jamey Carroll- .050
Dee Gordon- .050

Wells has always carried a very good ISO through his years in the minors including .205 in all his stops last season. He has enough raw power to overcome some of the difficulties right-handed hitters usually face at Safeco Field. He has whacked 7 homers at the Safe in just 98 career at-bats. His contact rate is below average and his history suggests he will never hit for a high batting average. His contact rate also will lead to plenty of strikeouts, but his power has the potential to make up for it. On the defense side, he provides tremendous value. He has the ability to play all three outfield spots. The former college pitcher has an impressive arm and his decent speed allows him to cover good ground especially from the corners. This is his age 27 year so it would behoove the Mariners to figure out soon if they have a good platoon/ 4th outfielder on their hands or a potential everyday guy. The difficulty becomes getting him enough AB’s to prove himself. Michael Saunders has clearly earned himself an everyday role in CF/LF. Franklin Gutierrez has just returned from the DL and he will gobble up a significant amount of at-bats while healthy. Giving Ichiro days off is still considered a rarity. The M’s will also have their original starting left-fielder Mike Carp presumably coming back in a couple of weeks. It is easy to see how Wells could slide back into a platoon position unless he can keep his current flames stoked. One way or another, I hope they can find him some more at-bats because I think he could pay big dividends.

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Casper Wells