Every offseason there seems to be at least one former Astros player that could conceivably come back. For better or worse.
This year it is known other than a certain slugger who mashed his way into our hearts in 2014. Then struck his way out in 2015. Chris Carter.
Well, apparently the Milwaukee Brewers decided to non-tender the former Astro instead of paying him big bucks.
This news will surely lead to speculation that the Astros could possibly use Carter as a stop gap first baseman for the near future. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Anyway, Carter had a notable 2016 season. While playing as the Brewers primary first baseman, he smashed 41 home runs to go with a .499 SLG. That’s impressive.
But his season can sort of be told as story of two halves. Sort of.
First half: .230/.317/.514, 22 HR
Second half: .213/.327/.482, 19 HR
As you can tell, he is still the same player that hits for loads of power. However, he still can’t maintain a respectable average over the course of a season. And while a batting average is not a reliable indicator of talent, it still provides a gauge of sorts.
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Essentially, Carter will either deposit the ball in the stands somewhere when he makes contact. Or he generates outs. Most likely those outs are strikeouts.
2014 strikeout total: 182
2015 strikeout total: 151
2016 strikeout total: 206
As observers of Astros baseball, we remember the strikeouts, right?
With the front office consciously attempting to achieve a more balanced lineup, does it seem realistic that the team would bring back Carter?
Most likely, not. Especially at the proposed arbitration price of $9 to $10 million.
The Astros have acquired outfielder Josh Reddick, not known for strikeouts. And Brian McCann, who is not as strikeout-prone as other hitters that Houston employed in the past. Then there is the conundrum of playing time. First base? DH? Both could be occupied by players that better fit the 2017 Astros philosophy than the 2015 version.
That is not to say that Carter doesn’t hold value as a baseball player. In fact, there are certainly teams out there that desire his power hitting abilities. As we can testify from the tail end of the 2015 season, he can change the course of a game with one swing of the bat.
While the fit may not be here in Houston, I still hope that Carter can be a valuable contributor on a major league team. His power does generate hope when he steps up to the plate. And excitement when he gets a hold of pitch to crush. It is the in between from one home run to the next that leaves much to be desired.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference**