One player who gets lost in the shuffle when you consider Boston’s championship season, is a former Met farmhand who came through for the Red Sox on many occasions in 2013 and provided them with more than a few big hits.
I’m talking about former top prospect Mike Carp who hit one of the most memorable home runs of the season for the Red Sox, a pinch-hit grand slam in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 in mid-September.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz spoke highly of the 27-year old late bloomer. “That guy is a good hitter. One day he’s going to get plenty of at-bats. He reminds me of myself when I first started. Don’t get to play too much, but with a good swing.”
Carp was designated for assignment just before spring training by the Seattle Mariners and the Red Sox picked him up for the major league minimum in what turned out to be a great move that seldom gets mentioned.
In 243 plate appearances, Carp slashed at .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs, 43 RBI and an eye-popping 140 OPS+. Of his 64 hits, 29 of them were for extra bases.
Ben Cherington didn’t necessarily need a first baseman when he made the move for Carp. He already had Mike Napoli on the team with Daniel Nava backing him up, and Jackie Bradley Jr. on the horizon. But what gave Carp an edge was the upside the Red Sox were trying to capture.
“We’ve always liked him as a hitter,” said Cherington, who tried to swing a trade for Carp several times during the offseason before finally getting it done in spring training.
“There’s a history of getting guys out of Seattle, the tough hitting environment. It was a combination of a pretty strong minor-league track record and some big-league success and, subjectively, our scouts have always liked his swing and approach.”
It didn’t take long for the Red Sox to realize they had something in Carp.
“The first day I saw him, I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’” assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez said. “He was incredible — driving the ball all over the place, out of the field to left field, left-center, right field.”
Carp had an incredible season for the Binghamton Mets in 2008, when the lefthanded slugger batted .293 with 17 home runs, 29 doubles and 72 RBI in 478 at-bats while posting a .884 OPS. However, later that offseason he was shipped to the Mariners as part of the ill-fated J.J. Putz trade.
I always had high hopes for Carp when he was with the Mets, and I’m happy to see our former first baseman of the future get himself a World Series ring.
Nice job, Mike…