Does Chris Carter Have A Future With the Astros?


Chris Carter ’s 2015 season has been a major disappointment. The 28-year-old first baseman is firmly in the midst of the worst campaign in his six-year career, and it is time for the Astros to decide his future with the team. His contract is up at the end of the year, and it is unlikely that Houston will try to re-sign him.

Carter was a 2005, 15th round amateur draft pick for the Chicago White Sox out of Sierra Vista High School in Las Vega, Nevada. After signing with Chicago, he was traded twice, and spent five years in the minors before his Major League debut on August 9, 2010, for the Oakland A’s. Over the next three seasons, he appeared in 106 games for Oakland, batting .214/.310/.425, with 19 home runs, 46 RBI, 48 walks, and 124 strikeouts.

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He arrived in Houston via trade in February 2013, along Brad Peacock and Max Stassi, in exchange for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. Although Carter had not shown much as a hitter for the A’s, the Astros had high hopes for the 6’4”, 250-pound California native. It looked like the Astros had finally found a slugging first baseman to cover the heart of the lineup – someone who might come close to filling the shoes of players like Astros legends Lance Berkman and Jeff Bagwell. Since Berkman’s departure during the 2010 season, no one had been able to pick up the slack at first base.

In 2012, Carter played his first full big league season, appearing in 148 games for Houston. He hit only .223, but his 29 home runs and 82 RBI made Astros fans feel there was some hope that he would develop into a big league talent and help spur the team to winning ways. The downside was Carter’s eye-popping 212 strikeouts, a new American League record for right-handed hitters.

The following year, Carter boosted his home run and RBI totals and cut his strikeouts. His 37 homers and 88 RBI led the Astros, and although he still led the team with 182 strikeouts, it was an improvement. Again, the low batting average (.227) and OBP (.308) could be overlooked, as the power numbers were impressive. No Astro first baseman had put up such power numbers since Berkman; it was not unreasonable to think that Carter was going to be the guy the Astros needed.

Unfortunately, Carter’s 2015 season is cause for concern as the Astros make the first serious playoff push since the World Series year of 2005. His .181/.298/.374 slash line is painfully low and among the worst of Major League first basemen. He has only struck out 138 times, but that comes in his fewest number of plate appearances (413) since 2012. (via

Fortunately for Houston, other players have stepped up and carried the team. For Carter, though, his lack of production could easily signal his exit. The low average and on-base percentages could be downplayed if the home run and RBI totals were close to the previous two years, however, sadly, the power is severely lacking.

It is disappointing that Carter has not been able to overcome his batting struggles. However, the Astros cannot afford to wait any longer. Jon Singleton may get another chance, and Triple-A star Tyler White may earn a spot on the 40-man roster, and could get a serious look as a replacement at first base.

If the Astros were not in contention, then this situation would not be such a problem; they might give Carter more time. This year is different, though – the Astros are in first place in mid-September, and the need for players that can produce is critical.

It seems clear that Chris Carter’s days in an Astros uniform are coming to a close.

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