The Houston Astros offense struggled mightily during the first three months of the season. It took a George Springer barrage of home runs to give this offense semi-respectable numbers. But even Springer’s arrival didn’t help with the Astros’ consistency at the plate.
One of the major reasons the Astros struggled at the plate through the first half of the season was Chris Carter. Carter couldn’t get anything going.
In 2013, Carter mashed 29 home runs while hitting a decent .223, but got on base 32 percent of the time, a respectable number for someone that either hits home runs or strikes out. In 72 games (66 starts) through July 1st, Carter hit just .181 with 13 home runs and 88 strikeouts (37% of at-bats) on the season, with an on base percentage of .263.
The Astros needed Carter’s bat in the lineup since he is capable of changing the game with one swing of the bat. It was, however, tough to justify his spot in the lineup with those extremely low numbers.
But then July 3rd came. Since then Carter has hit .319, smashing 16 home runs with an on base percentage of .363 in 37 games. He has only struck out in 41 of 144 at-bats, reducing his K-rate to 28 percent.
In the first half of the season, Carter was hitting a home run every 18 at-bats, roughly every four-to-five games. During his last 37 games, Carter has hit a home run every 9 at-bats, basically every two-to-three games.
Carter has already matched last year’s home run total with 29 on the season, and there are still another 37 games remaining.
Is Carter’s success sustainable? That’s the big question.
According to David Temple (FanGraphs), Carter is swinging at fewer pitches outsides the strike zone. Any Astro fan that has watched Carter these last several weeks has noticed his new approach. He’s not swinging on pitches out of the zone in two-strike counts, something that has haunted him his entire career.
But still, does this mean his success can be repeated over these last 37 games? I’m not totally sure. All hitters are prone to retreating to their old habits. Carter can certainly be one of those.
I don’t think we’re going to be seeing Carter hit below the mendoza line the rest of the season, but it’d be tough to predict him hitting over .300 through the last 37 games.
Carter’s current line reads; .233/.302/.516 with 29 home runs, 69 RBI, and 129 strikeouts. I don’t think his numbers will go much higher the rest of the season and I don’t think we see Carter hit the 40 home run mark.
These last 37 games will be a big test for Carter and his doubters. He will have to prove that he can replicate, or come close to replicating his previous 37 games for fans to be believers. 1.5 months of great baseball is one thing, but becoming this type of hitter for a half of season could turn his doubters into believers.
My prediction? Carter ends the season hitting .242/.313/.522 with 37 home runs, 90 RBI, and 165 strikeouts.
Oh, and do yourself a favor and watch this video…