This is Post #3 in the Wily Mo Deserves a shot campaign.
I have been asked a couple times “Why does it matter to you whether Wily Mo gets called up?”
A: To be honest… I am a huge Mariners fan, and I will continue to be such a fan even if they never call him up. I have experienced losing seasons before, and I am guessing that in the future more losing seasons will eventually happen. The part that keeps me a Mariners fan and cheering for my team is that I get excited about players that have exceptional skill to make amazing plays or have projectibility and talent to become a player that will be a cornerstone of the future.
Example: Franklin Gutierrez is currently my favorite Mariner for the way he plays in the outfield, but that doesn’t give Gutierrez enough credit. He doesn’t play the outfield, he owns the outfield with his combination of skills. Many players are faster, but nobody covers as much ground. His best skills are reading where a player is going to hit the ball, getting an amazing jump before the ball is hit, tracking the ball, and knowing exactly where he is on the field. Gutierrez makes amazing plays by other good outfielders look almost routine. Then he goes a step further and makes plays other outfielders wouldn’t be close to.
Wily Mo Pena is exceptionally talented at crushing baseballs. If a pitcher makes a “mistake out over the plate” he not only has a good chance to hit a homerun, but he might hit one out of the stadium. In the same way that Franklin Gutierrez makes me get up off my couch or out of my seat when he tracks down and amazing catch, Pena will do the same by crushing homeruns. He will be fun to watch, but there is another side to it as well. The stats and story keep telling me that he could still become a very good major league hitter.
Wily Mo burst on the scene with the Cincinnatti Reds in 2004 when he was 22 years old by hitting 26 homeruns in 364 plate appearances. At 23 years old he hit another 19 in 335 plate appearances and he put up an OPS. over 800 for both seasons. At 24 years old, he was traded to the Red Sox and they didn’t have a full time spot for him. Eventually he found a spot in Washington where he could have earned a full time role in the outfield but at that point he was recovering from an injury and wasn’t able to play to his full potential. Now we are 4 years later; he has fought through semi-pro ball and the minor leagues, and his stats are showing that he is healthy and deserves a shot.
1: He has the talent to bring excitement to a team that is out of contention
2: There is a chance that he could rejuvinate his career