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.

The Flaws

  • 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.

The Positives

  • 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?

167 comments on “Astros’ quandary: How do you solve a problem like Chris Carter?

  1. WHEW…….Man I thought these guys were toast, after McHugh gave up those runs early…….but the Disco ‘Stros came back with a BIG win! Oh how I love to win games where a former pitcher is pitching…….especially one who had NOTHING good to say about the Astros! By the way……the mouth-offs Norris, and Cosart
    are sucking pond water for their teams this year!!!


  2. This was a nice win tonight. It looked eerily similar to Sunday’s game against the Pale Hose early on, but the back-to-back jacks took care of that right away. If Tucker’s hard grounder to 2nd doesn’t take a bad hop it is probably an inning ending DP and probably a loss. Amazing how one bad bounce can turn around the entire outcome of a game.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After the eighth inning I noticed that Carter was up to .196 Avg with a .305 OBP. That’s not great and is actually the 120th best OBP in baseball. The guy right above him at .306 is Chase Headley. He’s tied with Hanley Ramirez and above Albert Pujols and Edwin Encarnacion. Jason Heyward? He’s at .302. Josh Harrison is at .299 after getting a nice extension from the Pirates. Carlos Gonzalez is at .295. Jay-Z’s buddy Robinson Cano is at .290…but he can wipe away the tears with hundred dollar bills to feel better about it. Going further south we have Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Chase Utley, Ryan Zimmerman, Melky Cabrera (.275), Luis Valbuena and Evan Gattis (.270 and .265…oh, whoops), Billy Hamilton (.263!!!) and finally Stephen Drew (.231).

    I was going to try to shoehorn a “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” joke in there somehow, but after seeing those names feel like maybe “I Have Confidence” would be the better choice. The huge delta between Avg. and OBP gives me confidence that Chris Carter can “Climb Every Mountain” … or at least ascend for a good part of the season and provide value.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well Devin the Astros winning is one of My Favorite Things. But since I have to get up early tomorrow I have to say So long Farewell Auf Wiedersein Good Night….


    • The last day of April – the Astros had a 4 game lead – now it is a 5 game lead. I know it is not as much as the 7 game they had for 2 days, but it is solid.


  4. Does anyone else think the Astros biggest threat in the AL West might be the Rangers? Man, they sure can mash the ball, but unlike the Astros, they hit for a higher average and not as many Ks. Granted, I like the Astros pitching better, but the Rangers are looking scary good right now.


    • The Rangers starting pitching is almost even with the Astros in ERA. However their bullpen has an ERA 1.80 higher than the Astros. If the Rangers make noise they are going to have to do like the Tigers did last season – outscore their bad bullpen.
      I guess note to Luhnow – do not trade any potential relievers to the Rangers.


  5. I’m thinking that 145 comments is definitely the highest ever on this blog. Wouldn’t you know it would be about ” The Sound of Music”. Many years ago it was the movie I took Mrs.1OP to see on our first date. I really was seventeen going on eighteen!


    • I was a little bit younger op – my mom took me to it when I was a youngster. Good movie – great music – nuns and Nazis how much better does it get.


    • Thanks guys for making this nearly 50 year old feel young as I wasn’t even born when that movie was released (I am thinking it was released in 1964 or 1965).


    • Obviously she was impressed. Good for you 1OP. Still my theme song. 145 comments so early in the season is pretty impressive. Still no fannies in the seats though. That needs to change with the kids out of school!


      • I think it is a mixed bag on kids out of school – some of the suburban districts where more of the fans would be are not getting out until tomorrow.


  6. Really good win last night. Kudos to Evan Gattis and Luis Valbuena for showing us what they are capable of doing the last two nights. And I lift a glass ‘To yer health, and to the order of the Pipes and the Kilt!’, Sir McHugh and Sir Gregerson!


    • Valbuena has shown some good patience the last few games as well. If he could have a talk about this with our long-haied outfielders and Marwin…


      • Marisnick is turning into a nudnik. If he doesn’t get better soon he may be enjoying a picnic on a sputnik en route to Fresnik.


  7. I have to say, with the struggles [relatively speaking] Carlos Correa has had thus far at Fresno, I personally am willing to admit that the F.O. made the right call in letting him settle in there against AAA pitching before bringing him to the big show.

    What still baffles me, however, is why Joe Sclafani is not our back-up infielder at this point instead of Jonathan Villar.


  8. Guys, I gotta confess. This team is amazing to me. I don’t know if it is because I’m not used to watching a winning team or what. They look so bad for a game and so good the next. They look so bad for an inning and so good the next. The pitchers have a bad inning and then mow down the same guys for the next five innings.
    What is going on? It’s like I am discovering a different game. This really is not like any Astros team I have ever followed. They have the best record in the AL and still can’t draw interest from the city. They are playing in a modern, beautiful park, but continue to do the wave which went out of style decades ago. They have one guy leading his position in All-Star balloting and the Royals have five. But the amazing thing is: they really don’t have another player who you would vote for to be on that team, except a pitcher that you can’t vote for anyway.
    I’m mystified and because of that, I stay glued to the TV for every game. After the game is over, I go look at the standings and just shake my head. Crazy.


    • Crazy- crazy for watching these Astros
      I’m crazy – crazy for orange and for blue

      I’m Crazy for starin’, crazy for carin’,
      and I’m crazy for their minor leagues too.


  9. Dittos old pro on the head shaking over this amazing team.

    Now an update on Chris Carter since this post was first completed.
    He is now on a 10 game hitting streak.
    His numbers for the season are up to a near Mendoza .197 BA / .305 OBP / .664 OPS
    In the last 4 weeks his numbers are a more palatible .247 BA / .357 OBP / .789 OPS with 4 HR and 17 RBIs.
    With men on base for the season he has a .306 BA / .430 OBP / 1.011 OPS in 62 ABs.
    In late and close situations he has a .296 BA / .424 OBP / .832 OPS

    Meanwhile, Jon Singleton has 49 RBIs in 50 games.
    His AAA numbers in 2014 .267 BA / .397 OBP / .941 OPS in 54 games
    His AAA numbers in 2015 .271 BA / .378 OBP / .963 OPS in 50 games

    If we bring him up will he put up his 2014 or 2015 AAA numbers (basically the same) or his bad 2015 mlb numbers. That is the $64,000 question.


  10. Article in SI on Correa/Bryant. Apparently the writer assumed that if he polled 15 Execs on which they would rather have he assumed Bryant would win a landslide. Correa actually won the poll 8 to 7.

    As was pointed though, the scary thought is the Astros had the opportunity to have both.


  11. And on another note, the Rangers made a monumental mistake in “starting the clock” on Gallo. He is only 21 and should have stayed in the minors for at least 3 more years. So now he and his boyhood pal, Harper at in the majors. Terrible that Nats and Rangers are trying to use their best players.


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