Following the end of the Steroid Era, true power hitters have been in short supply in baseball. The days where players routinely hit 45 or more home runs are all but over. Chances are, we will not get those random Brady Anderson seasons of 50 home runs any longer. That lack of power, probably due to the Fountains of the Creme and Clear drying up, has made a player with prodigious power even more valuable. That value extends to the Astros designated hitter/first baseman/left fielder Chris Carter.
Despite his tendencies to resemble a windmill or a turnstile at home plate, Carter is more than capable of sending a baseball into the stratosphere on those occasions when he does make contact. Last season, despite striking out in 31.8% of his plate appearances, Carter hit 37 home runs, second most in the American League. His at bat per home run rate of 13.7 was the best in the AL, showing the true power that Carter has in his bat.
It is easy to look at Chris Carter’s strikeout rate and his career .222/.313/.459 batting line and be underwhelmed. However, when one sees that 85 of his career 299 hits have gone over the fence, or that almost half of his hits have gone for extra bases, and Carter suddenly becomes a lot more interesting of a player.
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Considering that Carter is going to be 28 at the start of the 2015 season, there is still time to hope that his strikeout rates will decline. As high as they were last season, 2014 showed a 4.4% improvement. If Carter can get that strikeout rate down to the mid 20% range while continuing to show the batting eye that has allowed him to amass a career 11.3% walk rate, he could prove to be a truly dangerous hitter in the middle of the Astros lineup.
Chris Carter is already a valuable piece of the Astros lineup. His raw power makes him a candidate to approach the 40 home run plateau, making him one of seven players to reach that mark this decade. If he is able to make more consistent contact, that jump could happen in 2015.
When one thinks about the future of the Astros lineup, one typically thinks of the potential of George Springer and Jon Singleton. Chris Carter, if he improves his ability to make contact, might have just as much potential.