Astros fans in 2014 saw the best and worst of Chris Carter. Early in the season a struggling Chris Carter was benched for 4 out of 5 games in late May. At that point of the season, Carter is hitting .192 with a .278 on-base percentage and 54 strikeouts this season, as reported by Jose de Jesus Ortiz. Astros fans probably felt the way they felt when they watched Brett Wallace strikeout almost every at bat in his last stint with the Astros.
You could see the frustration in his face while he sat for those 4 games. It was May 28th, 2014, and Chris Carter was returning from his benching to have his best game of the year to that point. Playing against the Royals, Carter went 2-4 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s, and a walk in a 9-3 win. He still had a couple bad games to finish May and June, but in July and August he exploded to show what he is capable of. In July he hit .289, with 8 home runs and 19 RBIs. In August he hit .270, with 12 home runs, and 29 RBIs.
Yes, his batting average never recovered, but with an Adam Dunn like swing, he is not paid for hitting singles. He finished 2014 with 0.227 batting average, 37 home runs, and 88 RBIs. While he has not shown he can maintain his July and August numbers for a whole season, what if he does in 2015? Interesting tweet comparing Chris Carter to the 2014 AL American League MVP Mike Trout for the last 72 games of the season, courtesy of Ace of MLB Stats.
That’s an interesting comparison to show what Carter is capable of. I’m going to look at how the Red Sox handled David Ortiz, because I feel that is a good comparison with exception that Chris Carter strikes out at a higher rate. In 2002, the Minsesota Twins let David Ortiz walk after 4 years on the team. He then signed a three-year deal in 2003 with the Red Sox for 11.08 million. In 2006, he signed a 4 year $52 million extention with a 5th year option. Then Ortiz re-signed with the Red Sox for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons.
Like Chris Carter, David Ortiz got off to a slow start in his career. So the Astros should look to lock him up before he becomes too expensive.
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In 2015, Chris Carter is in his 1st year of arbitration, and is projected to get $3 million. Carter is scheduled to become a free agent in 2019. Astros fans, you may want to wait one more year to see which Chris Carter will show up. So in 2016, I think the Astros need to buy out Carter’s last years of arbitration and extend the contract to maybe 2021. Yes Carter strikes out way too much, but he has the ability to win the game with one swing. There is a chance he could become Houston’s David Ortiz. In 2017, Carter could be a key factor in the Astros run to the playoffs.