New American League West rivals made a trade today when the A’s and Astros made a five-player swap. In case you haven’t heard, take a look at the move.
From a fantasy perspective, there doesn’t appear to be much to write home about. Right off of the bat, I’ll tell you that even if repeats his 16 homer performance from last year, Lowrie doesn’t have much value. He doesn’t hit for a high average or steal bases, he’s never driven in more than 46 runs in a season or played 100 games. The homers aren’t bad from the shortstop position, but nothing else tells me that he’ll be an especially valuable fantasy player.
But the one guy I do want to look at is Carter. The Astros currently have a starting outfield of J.D. Martinez, Justin Maxwell, and Fernando Martinez, with Brett Wallace at first base and Carlos Pena as the designated hitter. I’ll admit that there’s some young potential there, but it shouldn’t be hard for Carter to find at bats in that lineup.
If Carter gets 500 at-bats with the Astros (not an outlandish amount) and hits homers at a similar rate to what he’s done thus far in his career, we’re looking at a guy who can push 35 homers. He hit 16 in 2012 with only 218 at-bats, and Oakland is not a good park for power. Houston on the other hand, is a great park, especially for right handed hitters. So, with Carter on your team, you have a strong, and probably cheap, source of power.
Here’s the problem. Carter won’t get you stolen bases, as his career Major League total is a whopping one. He was a bit more prolific in the minors, but not much. Also, in the Houston lineup, even if Carter hits 40 homers (which is a stretch), he’s no guarantee for 100 RBI or runs scored. But the real concern comes with his average.
I am not going to tell you that he enjoyed no success as a hitter in the minors, but he wasn’t a .300 hitter at any level. At Triple-A, he was only a .268 hitter. In the majors, the sample size is limited, but it’s pretty bad. Let me put it this way, he hit .239 in 2012, and RAISED his career batting average…by 47 points.
You might be thinking that he’s a young hitter who will learn to be more of a complete hitter in time. That has some truth to it, but Carter is 26, not a baby in baseball terms. If he eclipses a .250 mark, I’d say that you should be pleased.
The closest comparison I can come up with is Adam Dunn. You can’t say that there’s no fantasy value at all to Dunn, because he’s a real threat to lead the majors in two of the three Triple Crown categories and with that, a lot of runs should be scored. So, you have a solid contributor in three categories.
The problem is that he kills your average and steals no bases. That’s what you have to expect with Carter. He’ll get you solid power numbers and if Houston can generate some decent offense, the run totals will be okay. But the steals will be pretty much nonexistent, and the average could well be a drain. Again, there’s value, but don’t think you’re finding some cheap, complete sleeper. If you go with Carter, be sure that you can make up for him with some high batting average guys.