The Houston Astros past couple roster moves have shown a common theme — cut down on strikeouts and build-up on plate disciple. L.J. Hoes and Robbie Grossman share those skills, while Justin Maxwell and Carlos Pena were shipped off; both had a habit of striking out.
Yet the MLB leader in strikeouts, Chris Carter, strangely remains an everyday player. Carter has struck out a whopping 143 times in just 334 at bats. He’s struck out 15 times in the past 10 games alone, en route to a .114 batting average over the same span. His power numbers were once impressive and kept him as a useful tool to a power starved line-up, but his 19 home runs and 51 RBIs are no longer that impressive. With runners in scoring position, he’s struck out in over half of his attempts and with the bases loaded, Carter has struck out five times in six at bats.
It’s time for Chris Carter to make way for George Springer, who’s strike-out numbers may be only slightly less, but whose upside far outweighs that of Carters.
The Astros have had a strikeout problem all year, particularly with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. Whether that’s the hitting coach John Mallee’s problem, or the problem of the individual player, it is a huge problem and has to be amended before the Astros can even think about moving further towards the future.
The first step to fixing the problem is demoting Chris Carter.
At only 26, it’s a bit premature to cut ties altogether, plus he has tremendous power potential. But to keep marching him out there as the cleanup hitter, the most crucial spot in the line-up, and watching him strikeout once every three at-bats is helping no one, especially Carter. A trip down to Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks would rejuvenate his confidence and give him time to work with a different set of coaches that may be able to sort out the gaping holes in his swing. Carter’s swing is visibly slow and at times appears lackadaisical, as if he’s throwing the bat out there praying he’ll make contact.
Changes have to be made. In the past, the Astros haven’t hesitated when it comes to demoting players who are under-producing and giving another guy a shot. This time should not be any different.