From their all-rookie rotation, to the Brandon Moss‘ breakout, there were a lot of different storylines within the Oakland Athletics‘ unlikely rise to the top of the AL West in 2012. So it’s perfectly reasonable that Chris Carter‘s own minor breakout from two years of AAAA status was overlooked by most.
2013, though, might be a different story.
After a pair of unsuccessful stints that saw him over-matched at the big league level, Carter was a minor revelation last year, fully displaying his monstrous power (.514 SLG, 16 home runs in 260 PA). Sure, the numbers were dwarfed by Moss’ .596 SLG and 21 homers in 296 PA, but on top of showing the second-best power on the team, Carter also showed the team’s second-best ability to draw walks, getting a free pass 15.0 percent of the time compared to Moss’ rate of 8.8 percent.
That’s ultimately why I think it’s more likely that Carter will have sustained success over time, where Moss may regress in 2013.
Even if the latter doesn’t happen, Carter’s numbers could be enough to make him one of the best three-outcome hitters in the major leagues. He will share the first base role with Moss, and the Athletics will also find him at-bats as the team’s DH. If the slugger has in fact translated his base-on skills from the minors to the major leagues, Carter could be the Athletics’ own Adam Dunn: someone who is capable of hitting 35+ homers with a useful OBP hanging around .350, even if he’s unlikely to hit for much average.
To do that, Carter will need to keep his strikeout rate – already at a dangerously high 31.9 percent in 2012 – and avoid lengthy droughts to get enough plate appearances over the year. As long as those issues do not come up, there’s little doubt that the homers will come as long as Carter is standing at the plate.
When the Athletics embark on the quest to defend the AL West in 2013, Carter’s 35-homer potential will only stay under the radar for so long, even with a bevy of young stars on the team ready to take the next level – a full-season of at-bats could be the only thing keeping Chris Carter from taking his share of the spotlight.