Trying to make sense of the Chris Carter signing

It was just recently reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Yankees and 1B/DH Chris Carter agreed to a one- year, $3 million contract. My first reaction to this was...okay? The Yanks seemed pretty set at first, with Greg Bird and Tyler Austin, but I guess you can never have too much depth at one position. Bird is coming off of major shoulder surgery, so he definitely isn’t a sure-fire starter. Austin also had his struggles last year, most notably a 40% strikeout rate, so he isn’t a definite either. With some uncertainties, the Yankees signed a player full of concerns.
Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis | Getty Images

Carter provides a lot of power, and…that’s about it. Here’s a look at his numbers over the last few seasons:

2013: .223/.320/.451, 29 HR, 82 RBI, 212 K
2014: .227/.308/.491, 37 HR, 88 RBI, 182 K
2015: .199/.307/.427, 24 HR, 64 RBI, 151 K
2016: .222/.321/.499, 41 HR, 94 RBI, 206 K

Man, I guess you could say he’s consistent. Carter will hit a lot of bombs, have a lot of strikeouts, and not do much more at the plate. He’s a true all or nothing hitter. He also has never been good defensively in his career, especially at first base. He owns a career -19 defensive runs saved at the position, which is not good. Very not good. Hopefully we will be seeing more Bird at first in 2017 than Carter, because Carter won’t be pretty. Bird is no Mark Teixeira, but he wasn’t awful in 2015.

However, the signing of Carter really made me think. One possible explanation is the fact that he is a right handed power hitter who probably hits lefties better than righties, but he actually was pretty even in 2016:

Vs. LHP: .224/.338/.537, 12 HR, 43 K, 134 AB
Vs. RHP: .222/.316/.487, 29 HR, 163 K, 415 AB

The automatic reaction would be “wow, he strikes out a lot more against righties,” which is definitely true, but he also had almost four times the amount of at bats against right handed pitchers than lefties in 2016. So overall, I would say that the splits would be pretty close if they were over an even amount of at bats. So Carter being a righty who crushes lefties can’t be a good reason to sign him.

Another idea, which I think might be most likely, is that the Yankees just don’t trust that Greg Bird will be able to man the position, or might not be fully recovered yet. I hope this isn’t the case, but it’s a possibility. Maybe there’s a minor setback that hasn’t been announced. Who knows?

Or maybe, like I said before, the Yanks just want insurance. After Bird and Austin, the Yanks’ next first option is…Matt Holliday? Chase Headley? Rob Refsnyder? Not very appealing options if you ask me. So having Carter on the team won’t hurt, if Bird or maybe even Austin is injured, or struggles, but he probably won’t help in the long run (though he does come with two seasons of control). He will hit the ball to the moon, but the bombs will eventually be evened out by an immense amount of strikeouts, and an inability to play a quality first base.

Article By: Alex Weir



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