Chris Carter (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
To say that the Astros offense has struggled in their first 19 games of the season would be an understatement. Listing out all of the statistics really would not serve any purpose other than to cause everyone’s blood pressure to spike.
No one is truly immune in this matter. Well aside from George Springer. I would give Springer immunity here as he has only been part of this mess for five games. Springer so far is hitting .273, but he only has one RBI. Again the sample size is small, and to put the weight of the Astros’ struggles on him would not be responsible.
Carter is a slugger. The big, hulking power hitter struck out 212 times in 2013, but he did also hit 29 home runs and drive in 82 runs while sporting a .320 on base percentage. Obviously, that strike out total is way too high, and Carter received his fair share of criticism for it.
I’d say that for the most part it was warranted. Yes, Carter was miscast as a cleanup hitter and team’s best power and run producing threat, but those strikeouts need to come down. However, I was a defender of Carter pointing to his home runs, RBI, and on base percentage to prove his worth.
I think everyone can agree that having Carter as a cleanup hitter is not ideal. That is why Bo Porter opened the year with Jose Altuve spending time there. But then Robbie Grossman‘s struggles forced Springer to the majors and the second spot in the order was vacated. So it made sense that Altuve was moved up in the order and the rookie was batting cleanup.
While on a better team Carter would be a seventh or eighth hitter, things would be a lot easier for Porter if Carter could fill the cleanup role for the time being. For me to consider it a success, all Carter would need to do is match his performance from last season. If he did that, I think the strikeouts would go over a little better.
But so far in 2014, that is far from the case. Carter has struck out 26 times in 57 at bats so far this season. That is unacceptable.
To make matters worse, Carter is only hitting .123 on the season with no home runs and only two RBI’s. The only way for Carter’s performance to go from here is up.
Now Porter is rightfully giving Carter a night off against Hernandez on Tuesday, but I think the slugger needs a lot more than one day on the bench to right the ship. What is clear, is that the Astros need his power.