Houston's Chris Carter Is on a Terrific Tear
OK, everybody say it with me. All Chris Carter does is...
HIT HOME RUNS!
My Chris Berman impersonation aside, the Astros' designated hitter/first baseman is hitting lots of them lately, including two more in Houston's 10-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. And while he's been a consistent home run hitter for a while now, his most recent hot streak has been particularly blazing.
Since July 3, Chris Carter is hitting .325 with 15 homers, 36 RBIs, 1.138 OPS.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 13, 2014
According to Elias, the only other player in Astros history to hit 15 homers and drive in 36 runs over a 31-game span was Jeff Bagwell, in 1994 and 2000. Carter now has nine career multi-home run games, and six this season, which ties him with Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion for the most multi-homer games in the big leagues.
Here is a look at his numbers for the last two years as Houston's full-time designated hitter.
While his season batting average and on-base totals don't look all that impressive, consider that, on July 1, Carter had a batting average of .181, an on-base percentage of .263 and a slugging percentage of .399. Since then, he's hit .315/.371/.732 with those 15 home runs and a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .467, raising his batting average 49 points and his slugging percentage 122 points in that span. And his nERD of 1.22 means a lineup full of Chris Carters would score 1.22 more runs than a league average hitter over a 27-out game, 66th-best in Major League Baseball.
Carter is now third in the American League in homers this season, trailing only Chicago's Jose Abreu and Baltimore's Nelson Cruz, both of whom have 31. He's second among all designated hitters in homers, trailing only Cruz, and over the past two seasons, his 57 homers ranks third in the AL, behind Encarnacion's 62 and Cruz' 58.
Of course, like most power hitters, Carter has a tendency to pile up the strikeouts.
This year, Carter is third in the AL in strikeouts with 139, and last year he led the league with 212 punch-outs. However, this recent hot streak has seen him cut down on his K-rate a bit - at 27.1% since July 1 - noticeably lower than his season rate of 31.1% and also below his career strikeout rate of 33.6%. I would imagine, though, most teams would be willing to accept that strikeout rate if it meant 30 homers a season every year.
The Astros seem to be compiling a lot of players like Carter - guys with a lot of swing-and-miss in their bats, but also a lot of thunder (AL-rank in paranthesis).
|George Springer||18.2 (2)||61.0 (1)||20||1.06||345|
|Chris Carter||16.7 (5)||65.3 (3)||28||1.22||402|
|Jon Singleton||14.0 (12)||66.6 (7)||10||-0.38||244|
|Jonathan Villar||13.1 (15)||71.4 (15)||6||-0.87||247|
|Jason Castro||12.9 (17)||73.3 (17)||11||-0.33||399|
It's important to note that for players like Springer, Singleton, Villar and Castro, we're dealing with very small sample sizes, and it's likely their K-rate will drop a bit as their careers progress. Still, they're a large part of the reason why the Astros have the highest strikeout rate in all of baseball (23.3%), and the second-lowest batting average (.241). But they also have the third-most home runs (133).
One positive about Carter is the consistency in his splits, with a .895 OPS against left-handers and a .792 OPS against right-handers. However, he's hit 19 of his 28 homers against right-handed pitching, so he's still a guy you should play every day. And he's also not a product of Minute Maid Park, with a better OPS on the road than at home (.830-.819) and homer totals that are almost split evenly between home and away (15 at home, 13 away).
Obviously, Carter is going to cool down at some point, as our projections indicate. We see him hitting .237/.329/.481 the rest of the way, with an OPS of .810 and eight home runs, which would give him a projected end-of-season slash line of .230/.309/.498 with 34 homers and an OPS of .807.
Make sure you ride him right now, because this power surge has been going on for a solid month-and-a-half, and doesn't show any signs of slowing just yet.