Leading up the All-Star break and trade deadline, I called for the Houston Astros to move designated hitter Chris Carter. He wasn’t helping a last place team with his numbers at the plate, but with his power, I figured he could fetch a low level prospect. Over the last month of play, Carter has been on a tear offensively and is making me eat crow. Lately, he is hitting so well that the Astros may have found themselves a more than serviceable designated hitter for the foreseeable future.
At the end of June, Carter was hitting just .184 with an OBP of .267 and had struck out 83 times in 234 at-bats. He still had decent power numbers with 13 home runs, 11 doubles and 30 RBIs. He was clearly a one-dimensional player who couldn’t be counted on for much other than a home run every now and then. He looked like a player who had peaked a year ago, where he carried a line of a .229 average, 29 home runs and 82 RBIs.
Since the start of July, Carter has hit .319, 12 home runs and driven in 29 runs. His average is now up to a respectable .229 and he is leading the team in home runs and RBIs. The biggest surprise of Carter’s hot streak is that it has come with George Springer being out with an injury. In a time when the Astros needed someone to step up, Carter did just that and has put the team on his back for over a month’s worth of baseball.
Is it sustainable for him to keep up this pace? Probably not, but there is no reason to think he cannot land somewhere in the middle. With the shortening of his swing, it is conceivable to see Carter putting up numbers that are around .250-.270, with 25 or more home runs and 85 RBIs a year during his prime. It all depends on if Carter continues to use the success of his shortened swing or if he falls back into the old habits that made him a one dimensional hitter.