In 2016 Chris Carter led the National League with 41 HR. In 2017, Chris Carter played his last game in the major leagues. This is the shocking story of Chris Carter's decline.
Vernon Christopher Carter was born on December 18, 1986 in Redwood City, California. He was drafted from high school to the Chicago White Sox in the 15th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. He played 3 solid years in the White Sox's organization before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin. 11 days later he was traded to the A's in a huge trade.
Being on 3 different teams in 12 days probably didn't help his nerves - or chances in the MLB - but he stuck with Oakland, making his debut in 2010. He played 2 small sample sizes in 2010 and 2011, totaling a slashline of .167/.226/.254 with 3 HR in 124 PA. He had a HR% of 2.4%, a BB% of 7.3%, and a 3 true outcomes percent of 42.7%. In other words, Carter didn't make a great debut. And then 2012 happened.
Carter started the year in the minors before being called up in June. In his 2 games in June, he only had 7 AB. That didn't stop him from having 2 HR. In the end, he finished the year with 16 HR in 218 AB and a slashline of .239/.350/.514. He was good. In fact, he was really good.
Before we go any further, we have to bring up his defense. In 2013, Carter had a -20.0 defensive rating. (0 is average, +15 is elite, and -15 is horrible) That was his worst defensive year, although part of the reason that he is out of the league now is his defense. He brings such a negative defensive output into the field that some may call him the worst defender in the league. And Carter plays 1B/DH.
That little piece of info aside, Carter's 2013 season was good offensively. He slashed .223/.320/.451 with 29 HR. The only problem was that he led the league in strikeouts with 212. In only 506 AB, Carter had struck out 36.3% of the time. He was striking out like no other person. A modern day example would be Joey Gallo, although Gallo brings a lot more power. However, defense was still a problem as he was a horrible defender.
In 2014 Carter slashed .227/.308/.491 with 37 HR. He struck out 182 times while striking out 31.8% of the time. The power that he brought to the table was amazing, and that's what kept him in the lineup. Speaking of the lineup, Carter mainly batted 3rd on an Astros team that finished 70-92. Carter played DH allowing Jon Singleton to sneak into the lineup at 1B. Now Singleton was the #25 prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, so him batting 3rd wasn't a big surprise. But, he was out of the league after 2015.
In 2015, Carter took an off year as he slashed .199/.307/.427 with 24 HR in 391 AB. He struck out 151 times, often swinging out of his shoes. If he made contact, that ball was going far. In the offseason, he signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were counting on him to bring a bat to a lineup that scored below average runs in 2015. And that he did, at first glance.
Chris Carter hit 41 HR in 2016. He struck out 206 times. That's what I call the Carter effect. Basically, the more HR you hit the more you strike out. This is the case with players such as Joey Gallo and Pete Alonso.
In 2016, Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 HR in 160 games. Because of his horrible, horrible defense he ended up with a -0.1 WAR. The NL just isn't where Carter needed to be. And that effectively ended his career.
That offseason, Carter signed with the Yankees to fill the Yankees' problem of finding a 1B. He slashed .201/.284/.370 with 8 HR in 62 games.
Now I'm no expert, but I think that Chris Carter was set up for failure. No person can swing hard and hit the ball well every season. It eventually hits a breaking point, like Chris Davis, where the player becomes downright horrible. And while Carter wasn't as bad as Davis, one bad offensive year ends his career because of his defense.
Carter bounced around a few teams in 2018, but he eventually signed in the Mexico League where he dominated.
The other thing to note is that Carter simply wasn't that good even though he hit 41 HR. He was only a 13% above average hitter.
In short, Chris Carter hit 41 HR in a year, but he was set up to fail. Thanks for reading!