Will Chris Carter be viable as a full-time first baseman?
After three-and-a-half full seasons at the major league level, just about everyone knows what Chris Carter‘s game is – lots of power, and lots of strikeouts. Carter “boasts” a career strikeout rate of 33.4% against a walk rate of 11.5%, with a home run/fly ball rate of 20.3% and an overall home run rate of 5.44%, or one every 18.4 at-bats. However, due to the high-strikeout low-walk approach, Carter has posted a relatively disappointing .312 career OBP. In 2015, Carter hit just .199 in 460 plate appearances, down from .227 and 572 in 2014. Carter’s K% jumped a point and his isolated slugging dipped 36 points from his 2014 marks as well – by pretty much all accounts, 2015 was a step back. To add insult to injury, Carter’s been a hilariously poor defender in his career, costing his team 24 runs over his career, according to defensive runs saved. However, there are two things that may provide Brewers fans solace when considering Carter as their 2016 first baseman. First would be his walk rate, which did markedly improve from 2014 to 2015. Despite hitting .227 with 37 home runs in 2014, Carter walked a measly 56 times during the season, good for 9.8 BB%. In 2015 that number jumped to 12.4%, an increase of over 25%. This seemed to not be just a product of chance, but a result of a conscious effort made by Carter to improve his discipline – his O-Swing% dropped from 31.8% to 25.4% in 2015. In addition to his improved discipline, Carter was on the business end of some bad luck last season, posting a career-low .244 BABIP, 31 points below his career average and 55 points below league average. It’s likely that Carter could rebound back towards the mean in 2016, improving his poor BA and OBP numbers. Lastly, most of Carter’s defensive deficiencies come from his limited time in the corner outfield positions, which he hasn’t played since 2014. Carter will never be a good defender at first, but he could be passable for now.