In their quest for outfield depth after injuries forced Bobby Valentine to use about a bazillion outfielders last year, the Boston Red Sox got Mike Carp for next to nothing on February 20, when they acquired the 26-year-old from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations (a bag of balls, essentially). Carp was coming off a down year in which he batted just .213/.312/.341, and the M’s didn’t have much use for him after signing Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Mike Morse during the offseason, so they designated him for assignment.
The Red Sox didn’t appear to have much need for him either, not with Jackie Bradley Jr. poised to make a splash in the big leagues. But Bradley bombed during his first two weeks in The Show and was quickly demoted to Pawtucket for additional seasoning. That created playing time for Mike Carp, who smashed three extra base hits in his first start with the Sox — a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on April 17 — and he hasn’t stopped hitting since. After ripping two home runs and a double during Boston’s four-game set in Baltimore, Carp’s hiked his batting line is up to an impressive .324/.379/.686 on the year.
Like Cody Ross last year, Mike Carp’s performed way better than anyone possibly could have predicted. He’s taken his game to another level as one of the unsung heroes driving Boston’s excellent first half. Carp has smacked more home runs than Dustin Pedroia, driven in more runs than Jacoby Ellsbury and compiled more total bases than Shane Victorino. Not bad for someone barely making more than $500,000 this year.
Mike Carp came into the season expecting to spend lots of time on Boston’s bench as the club’s fifth outfielder (behind Ellsbury, Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes), but his heavy hitting has forced John Farrell to overlook his lackluster glove and pencil him into the starting lineup more frequently. After making just eight starts in the season’s first six weeks, Mike Carp’s appeared in 19 of Boston’s previous 23 games, starting 16 of them. Consistent playing time has helped him get in a groove at the plate; since the calendar flipped to June, he’s belted five home runs, knocked in 12, and batted a scintillating .405/.469/.833.
When a player’s provding that much offensive firepower, you don’t take him out of the lineup, regardless of where he stands on the depth chart.