Hope was drying up quick for Houston Astros slugger Chris Carter, especially in the first half of the 2014 season.
Carter couldn’t musk a decent swing together. He strung together a measly .183 batting average from April to June even though his power numbers were decent (13 home runs, 30 runs batted in before July).
There was talk of sending Carter down to the minors or possibly even designated for an assignment after an abysmal June (.164 BA, 5 homers, 9 RBI, 11-67 at the plate).
Before the All-Star Break, Carter struck out 99 times, more than any other player in the league.
But on July 3, the power hitter halted any moves made by the Astros and began one of the more impressive turnarounds in a season.
There was something different about Carter at every bat. His swing was different and he was hitting home runs at a faster pace. Before July, he would hit a home run every 18 at-bats, then after July he was hitting a home run every nine at-bats.
An example of how his swing is much more smooth and accurate is from a game this past week against the Yankees, where he hit a three-run home run to put his team ahead in the 9th inning on August 19.
Living up to expectations
Chris Carter is finally becoming the big bopper the Astros were hoping he could become.
For the month of July, Carter hit 8 home runs and drove in 19 runs, while putting together a .289 batting average. Things certainly are going in the right direction for Carter’s career if he is able to keep this up.
Even though the Houston designated hitter’s bat is meant for the clean up spot, he is a far better hitter when he bats third.
As of August 22, Carter is batting .299 with 11 HRs and 32 RBIs when going to the plate third. Some power bats are meant for different positioning in the lineup and if it means more of a production use to help bring potential runners on base, Carter will take all they he can get.
His valiant effort was honored when he was awarded the American League Player of the Week during the week of August 11-17. Over the course of that week, Carter hit .321 with four homers and nine RBIs, along with a .750 slugging percentage and 21 total bases.
If Chris continues to be the hitter he is now with the Astros, it opens a window of opportunity for Houston as a team in the future. Having Carter in the middle of the lineup, along with budding/future stars in George Springer and Jon Singleton and league-leading stolen base machine Jose Altuve gives the team a chance for a slight competitive edge.
Can it continue?
It goes without saying that if Carter can also continue his hot bat streak, he could be seen as a legitimate threat for any pitcher that faces him rather than live with the probability of hitting a home run or striking out.
Home runs are a part of Chris Carter’s game but the Astros can make him a power hitter that hits for average too. So far, in the post All-Star half of the season, it’s working.
After all, the Houston hitter is hitting .282 in the second half of the season vs. hitting .205 in the first half.