What's Behind Mariner Mike Carp's Hitting Streak?

SEATTLE: Mike Carp #20 of the Seattle Mariners watches his home run which tied the game 5-5 in the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Okay, so two things about Mike Carp:

1. He's a handsome devil.

2. He's living proof that Seattle Mariners don't have to be terrible hitters.

Here's living proof of the first thing:

Carp_medium

For proof of the second thing, you need only consider Carp's current 20-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors right now. Carp's also reached base in 29 straight games, which is also the longest active streak in the majors. If Carp collects a single (or a bingle, or a double or a treble or a fourble) Monday night in Cleveland, he'll pull into a tie for the fifth-longest hitting streak in Mariners history, with Ichiro (twice), Richie Zisk and Dan Meyer.

Next will be Ichiro at 23 straight, then Joe Cora (24) and two more Ichiros (25 and 27).*

* Speaking of whom, it's just not going to happen this season. He entered August batting .267 on the season, and now he's batting .266.

And yes, all of this came out of nowhere.

When the Mariners picked up Carp, he was merely one minor piece in a huge, three-team deal that netted Franklin Gutierrez and Jason Vargas (among others). Some of us liked Carp because he'd just posted a .299/.403/.471 as a 22-year-old in double-A. But that was his second season at that level, and his lack of broad-based skills made him a Class B prospect, an evaluation that didn't improve over the next couple of seasons as Carp muddled about in triple-A and couldn't break into the Mariners' ridiculously anemic lineup.

But this season, his third with the Tacoma Rainiers, Carp hit brilliantly (.343/.411/.649) in 66 games. He got a shot with the big club in June but didn't hit. He got another shot in July, and since going into the lineup on the 19th he's batted .362/.398/.595.

Carp's always drawn his share of walks, but this season he's been swinging at significantly more first pitches, and apparently it's been working for him. Maybe the pitchers will adjust, but maybe Carp's adjustment will trump the pitchers' adjustments. In the long run, it's not at all apparent that he'll hit well enough to displace Justin Smoak as the Mariners' first baseman, or well enough to deserve regular DH duties. But at the very least, Carp and Dustin Ackley have proved that being a Mariner doesn't mean you have to stink.

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