Friday, February 10, 2017

Not that Chris Carter

In news that barely registers as news, the Yankees signed DH Chris Carter to a 1-year deal for $3.5 million.  This probably wouldn’t merit much consideration in a normal off-season, but this has hardly been a typical off-season for the Yankees.  Other than bringing back Aroldis Chapman for too many years and too much money and signing Matt Holliday for too much money but only for one season, the Yanks have been pretty quiet.

When I first saw reports of the Carter signing, and adjusted to the fact that this Chris Carter is neither the former NFL receiver nor the creator of The X-Files, I looked him up.  Led the NL in home runs last year.  Good.  Led the NL in strikeouts last year.  Not so much.  At first, I figured this was a low-risk, low-impact move.  But then I took a closer look.

Putting Carter under the microscope did not improve the situation.  While the 41 homers last year are impressive, the 206 strikeouts are a liability. Remarkably, Carter has actually led both the AL and NL in strikeouts in his career, and his highest season batting average was only .239, a season in which he only played in 67 games. This guy looks like the reincarnation of Rob Deer.

I'm also not thrilled that he's a right-handed hitter.  The Yankees will play half their games in Yankee Stadium, a lefty hitter's paradise.  In case you were wondering, though, Carter does not avail himself of all fields.  A spray chart of his home runs from last season shows just that:

Notice that Carter didn't hit a single homer beyond right-center field.  It appears that his swing is not ideally suited for the stadium's short porch.  Though he has tremendous power, Carter may also see a number of homers from last year turn into very long outs in the stadium's cavernous left-center field.

The best-case scenario is that Carter may turn out to be a good pinch-hitter.  Late in games, I guess, swinging for the seats is probably justified. It would be silly to expect much from him.  After all, there must have been a reason why the Brewers -- 12th in the NL in runs scored last year -- didn't offer him a contract. League leaders in home runs don't contemplate playing in Japan unless there are also some holes in his game.