Chris Carter recorded his club-leading 82nd RBI of the season on Saturday against Andy Pettitte. Carter also leads the Astros in home runs with 29 with only Sunday’s game against the Yankees remaining on the 2013 schedule. On the downside, he has a major-league leading 209 strikeouts.
“When he gets to the point where he handles the fastball in the strike zone, there’s no telling how many home runs this guy can hit,” said Astros manager Bo Porter.
Porter believes too many fans are emphasizing Carter’s high strikeout total and low batting average (.225). There’s no denying the strikeout numbers are high, but this is the right-handed hitting Carter’s first full season in the major leagues. Porter said that Carter’s season overall has been “impressive.”
“You look at the overall production, this is his first opportunity to play every day,” said Porter. “And to hit 29 home runs, you have to be happy with it.
“A lot of times people look at the strikeouts and harp on it. But look around the major leagues, there’s not many guys that hit 29 home runs and drive in as many runs he’s driven in.”
Carter’s strikeouts are a concern, but he’s also had his share of big hits this season, especially away from Minute Maid Park, where he’s tied for third in the American League in road RBI (57) and fifth in road home runs (19). He has 24 RBIs in his last 25 road games.
Carter’s 29 home runs are the most by an Astro since Lance Berkman hit 29 in 2008.
Porter said the 26-year-old Carter looks at too many fastballs, and that the 6-4, 244-pounder needs to be more aggressive with the fastball.
“He takes a lot of fastballs,” said Porter. “A lot of times you look and you go, ‘the at-bat should have ended with that pitch.’ Whether or not he put it in play and makes an out or he put it in play and gets a hit. The at-bat should end right there at that pitch.
“But a lot of times he takes those pitches or fouls them off and subsequently he ends up striking out. Well, the strikeout didn’t happen at strike three, the strikeout happens at strike one or strike two.”
Porter made it a point that Carter is one of the players that will help the club going forward. Carter’s position is up in the air. This season he started 54 games at first base, including Sunday’s season finale, 46 games as designated hitter and 41 in left field. It’s the first time in franchise history a player has started 40 or more games in a season at three different positions.
“I like him better at first base than I do in left field,” said Porter. “DH is an obvious option. It all depends on what direction we go roster-wise.”