Astros’ quandary: How do you solve a problem like Chris Carter?
Early on in the iconic musical The Sound of Music, the nuns have gathered and are “discussing” the novitiate, Maria. Though she has great intentions, she continues to frustrate the nuns with her actions. This leads, as is apt to happen in a musical, to a song. “Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you hold a moon beam in your hand?”
Houston fandom seems to have come to this same point in their relationship with 1B/DH Chris Carter. He is trying hard, but in their eyes, his flaws are overpowering his intentions. Or perhaps his flaws are keeping him from meeting the expectations of the fans.
- Carter strikes out. A lot. Like the most of anyone in baseball. Like currently on pace for a nearly major league record of 220 strikeouts in a season.
- After almost two months of the season his BA is only .188 and his OBP is only .292. For those “qualifiers” in the AL, he is tied for 88th (out of 91) in batting average and 71st (out of 91) for OBP.
- On top of that he is 73rd in slugging percentage for a guy who is supposed to be a slugger and 74th in OPS.
- Again, for a player who bats in the middle of the lineup, his extra base hit percentage is a puny 5.7% as he only has three doubles, no triples and eight HRs in 2015. For some comparison, Carter has 11 XBH in 165 ABs, while Marwin Gonzalez also has 11 in 108 ABs and Preston Tucker already has 9 in only 58 ABs.
- He strikes out. A lot. And at 28 years old and 1500 ABs in the majors, to still be putting up a 35 percent strike out rate points to someone who is never going to “get” it, similar to the player he most closely mimics, Mark Reynolds.
- Carter warms up with the weather apparently. Just like in 2014, his numbers are on the rise (though still bad) as May comes to a close. Through Saturday for the season he in on a pace for 26 HRs and 87 RBIs. But after doing nothing in April, he has had six homers and 21 RBIs in May, which is on a pace of 36 HRs and 126 RBIs.
- He is on a seven-game hit streak with seven RBIs in those seven games.
- He is walking at a solid 12 percent walk rate.
- Though no gazelle in the field, he is a much better first baseman than expected and is a ton better in decision-making than Jon Singleton showed us last season at first base.
- The Astros are 12-5 when Carter knocks in a run or more in 2015.
The Astros bigger problem is how to parcel out the ABs if Jon Singleton gets called up and Chris Carter and Evan Gattis are both still here. The way Gattis has turned things around in May (.277 BA and .929 OPS with 9 HR and 22 RBIs) it is unlikely he is going anywhere. And then again do they need to make a move with Carter warming up in May? Would they get more for him or more for Singleton as part of a trade?
So, if you were then GM would you:
- Bring up Singleton and rotate Carter, Gattis and Singleton between 1B, DH and maybe a little LF?
- Bring up Singleton and trade Carter?
- Trade Singleton and keep Carter?
- Keep Singleton down on the farm and see if Carter continues to rise?