My very first piece for Climbing Tal’s Hill was about how the Jed Lowrie trade was going to be a huge benefit to the future and rebuilding of the Houston Astros. It was mainly centered around my undying, immense, passionate fandom of first baseman turned full time designated hitter Chris Carter.
My writing has come a long way since, just see the comments section in that first article for some well deserved medicine. But Chris Carter has come quite a ways as well.
Sure, the power has always been there. He’s a power hitter and a powerful man. He’s going to Hulk smash not fire a repulsor beam or a vibranium shield or batarang or spider web at you. Get it? Sweet.
He’s going to smash.
But an occasional taste of elegance wouldn’t make anyone worse for wear if CC lifted his batting average a bit or hit the gaps a few more times.
As 2014 progresses, Carter is…doing…all..these…things.
The former heralded prospect of the Chicago White Sox, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for MLB 2K8 machine Carlos Quentin in 2007 and less than two weeks later was packaged with names like Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson to the Oakland A’s for Dan Haren.
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012 with Oakland he flashed some of the power –16 home runs in 67 games– but hit .239 and had an 83:39 K:BB ratio.
In 2013, his first full season with the Astros, he smacked 29 home runs but hit a poor .223 with a league leading 212 strikeouts, drawing ire and frustration from fans and more seats on the bench from Manager Bo Porter.
2014 started on a similar note, my Astros peers somewhat kindly telling me it just isn’t going to happen with the big bopping bat only Carter. My fantasy baseball peers were a little less cordial. (I own Carter and will always, ironically traded Delino Deshields Jr. for him in Spring 2013)
But since the All-Star Break, Chris Carter has been absolutely on a tear.
Via a report from the unquestionable baseball journalistic and broadcasting legend Peter Gammons…
Since July 4, specifically, the 6-foot-4 first-baseman and designated hitter owns a .328/.386/.765 slash line and home run rate of 12.8% over 132 plate appearances — enough for an eye-opening .437 ISO in that span (best in baseball and nearly .100 points higher than the guy behind him).
Not going to lie to you, some of those numbers go beyond my cranium, but if Mr. Gammons says it, it’s not only true, it’s universally true. (It’s truer?)
Chris Carter’s 28 home runs–27 and 28 coming Tuesday night off Minnesota Twins starter Yohan Pino–rank 4th in the Major Leagues behind Jose Abreu, Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton who all have slugged 31 long balls.
Chris Carter’s .230 batting average isn’t anything to blink thrice at. But blink twice because not long ago he was under the Mendoza line (.200) and fans were calling for his head…again.
He’s struck out 126 times and his K:BB still leaves a lot on the table but strikeouts (work counts!) can be tolerated when (counts are worked!) when the peripherals are much improved and each at bat is holding much, much more value to himself and just as importantly the team.
As noted, he’s been on a league leading tear since late June/early July and was a hot topic of interest at this year’s MLB Trading Deadline. He didn’t move thankfully.
Sure, he’s 27 and will be 28 in December but he’s a specialist at DH and that doesn’t take a toll on the body. He could have another very, very good decade of baseball left where he sees the Astros go from the bottom of the league to the upper tier eventually. His value is simply escalating each and every game and every at bat where his plate discipline and baseball instincts are showing awesome improvement…with room to grow.
In a matter of months he’s become a league leader, in a few more he could embed himself as one of the premier designated hitters and power contributors in all of baseball.
It is absolutely okay and not a bad thing to fall in love with one of my favorites, Chris Carter.
Even the bossman is coming around!
Shoutout to JT for letting me use this title. Kidding but I would love to meet him one day. My birthday is May 29 next year in case you readers have any crazy ideas! And that’s pretty crazy.
Also my Chris Carter broken bat given to me by the big man himself in 2010 (as a AA Midland Rockhound ((Oakland)) is not for sale.
P.S. I’m really done now.