Baseball has come a long way in 10 years. Power used to demand a premium on the open market. The game is moving on now.
The news has hit the screens that Chris Carter is no longer the first baseman of the New York Yankees. The late spring signing never made much sense anyway. Initially signed for insurance in case 23-year-old Greg Bird struggled, Carter was looked at as a hole-filler of sorts after Bird’s injury in the final hours of Spring Training. The Yanks had plenty of other options instead.
Fast-forward to late June, and here we are. A disheveled Carter has been taken from the equation. Why? Because his $3.5 million price tag is a lot to pay for -0.4 bWAR through 57 games. New York is still on the hook for that cash. First base play can be improved through other means.
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Tyler Austin brings a much different game to New York than Carter. Austin has some strikeout problems, too. He can also hit for a much better average while also providing some power. His glove would at least match Carter’s.
Carter was a one-dimensional player. Offense was his calling card, swinging for the fences and showing the typical high strikeout and walk rates. His defense is more NBA-like. In his career, Carter owns an 11.5 percent walk rate paired with a 33.3 percent K rate – beyond awful.
His at-bats in 2016 resulted in an extra-base hit just over 12.5 percent of the time while leading the National League in home runs with 41. This power came at the cost of 206 K’s. Only Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (essentially an identical hitter and also named Chris) topped him. Ironically, Davis is getting roughly $20 million more.
But Chris Carter was DFA’d because he didn’t bring his only tool with him to Yankee Stadium. His K and BB rates were the same, but his power was not. Carter has only hit eight bombs through 57 games which is a full-season pace of 23. Starlin Castro can do that. Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus has more dingers in 20 fewer games.
I will say this: Chris Carter seems like a genuinely good dude. Always smiling too. It’s a shame he couldn’t put it together.
When you pair this sort of hitting with below-average to poor defense at first base (-7.1 UZR/150), you end up with these sorts of headlines. The New York Yankees know Tyler Austin can do at least as much. Might as well give the first baseman of the future his reps.