Houston Astros: Chris Carter could be the Astros X-Factor for success.
The Houston Astros had an invisible man baseball player on their team for a while; his name is Chris Carter. It’s hard for the gentle giant to be known as the invisible man with his imposing presence and mighty swing, but he had ridden the pine often recently. While Carter has had a terrible year up to this point, he still has hit 22 home runs and had a .719 OPS on the season. Those numbers are not that bad at this point of the season. However, his other stats are not as pretty.
To the Astros credit, they have been very patient with Carter throughout the season. They kept running his strikeout-prone bat out there daily, waiting for him to break out of his season-long slump. It never happened, but Carter was able to mix in a home run or walk every once in a while. After each homer that Carter would hit, Astros’ fans would think, is this when he goes on the hitting streak and carries the team?
Carter then found himself riding the pine and getting the occasional start against a left-handed pitcher. Astros manager A.J. Hinch reportedly told Carter that he would be losing some playing time to Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez. Most people would have dug their head in the sand. Not Carter, on days that he was not in the lineup, he tried to get in as much batting practice as possible. When Gonzalez had a minor injury, Carter was called upon more regularly. The way he responded made you really root for the guy.
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The past 14 days, Carter has played in nine games (six starts) prior to last night’s game, and he has an impressive slash line of .409/ .435/ 1.045/ 1.480 in that time. He has four homers and six runs batted in with only four strikeouts. These numbers are far better than the .195/ .305/ .414/ .719 slash line that he has sported on the season. Stats from Baseball-Reference.
It’s better late than never. If Carter finds some way to regain his 2014 form in the last five games of the regular season and possible playoff games. If, and I stress if, Carter get’s hot, he could lead the Astros deep into the playoffs. That is the type of impact bat that Carter can be when he is on his game. He has the multi-homer game potential and does not embarrass himself at first base.
Has he done enough to earn everyday playing time? Maybe not, but get him hot and he can be a big bat off the bench giving the Astros the game-changing swings. I will admit, there were times that I was down on Carter this season, but I have rooted for him all season because he is what this team is missing to be more consistent on offense.
As I was writing this post, I was watching the Astros and Mariners game from last night. As you can see by Evan Drellich’s Tweet above, Carter has had success at Safeco Field. He started the night as Carter normally does by striking out. In his second at-bat, he drew the walk like he has done 56 other times this season. Then in a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning, Carter steps up and hits a go-ahead homer. He may not get a hit or get on base every at-bat, but when he does, it could mean something.
After the game, my wife woke up, and I told her that the Astros won on a Chris Carter homer. She rolled back over to go back to sleep and said, “all he does is hit home runs!”