In Better Late Than Never, I will be profiling 25 year old Oakland A’s post-hype prospect Chris Carter. In this profile I will give you some background on his career in the minors, his past struggles in the majors and his surprising emergence this year at the major league level as well as my recommendation, fantasy-wise, for the rest of the season in yearly and dynasty/keeper leagues. Unlike another famous Cris Carter, where all he did was catch touchdowns, all this Chris Carter does is hit home runs.
Chris Carter is a 25 year old first basemen for the Oakland Athletics. He was drafted in the 15th round of the 2005 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. During the 2007 offseason Carter was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin. Two weeks after he was traded to Arizona, Carter was traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of the package to bring Dan Haren to Arizona.
In four previous stints with the A’s prior to this season, Carter was a major disappointment. Once considered the club’s top prospect, he struggled mightily. In 2010, he hit .186 with 3 Hrs and had 21 strikeouts in 24 major league games. Then, in 2011, his performance was even worse, hitting just .136 with 0 Hrs and 20 strikeouts in 15 major league games.
However, the tools and talent have always been there. In 2009, he seemed destined to become an impact power hitter. He produced 28 hrs and 115 rbis in 544 at-bats in season, splitting time at both the double-A and triple-A levels and also appeared in the Future Game. In 2010, he produced 31 Hrs and a .258 avg with 94 RBIs in AAA.
While prior to this season, he had never been able put it all together at the major league level, the talent was evident at the minor league level. In his last four minor league seasons, he was good for 122 home runs and 399 RBI. While putting up good numbers in the minors, he had fallen off most “top prospect lists” and many insiders were beginning to label him a Quad-A player (a Quad-A player is a player is one who has enough talent to dominate in Triple A but continually fails in the Majors). Was this who Carter was destined to become?
Enter 2012. It now seems he has arrived. The now post-hype prospect has hit . 272 with 10 HRs, 22 RBIs and only 33KS in 103 ABs this season. While he could still work on lowering his strikeout numbers some, it’s a major improvement from his high K-rate in much less ABs in his short stints in the majors in ’10 and ’11. Plus, the power is definitely there. His 10 Hrs in only 103 ABS in a pitcher-friendly park is nothing to scoff at. Finally receiving consistent playing time, it looks like the late-blooming 25 year old Chris Carter may have finally arrived.
Now for his fantasy value. Chris Carter is only owned in 5% of Yahoo!, 7% of ESPN and 33% of CBS leagues. While I know his past struggles had him off most fantasy owners radar early in the season, why the reluctance to roster him now, gamers? He has hit 10 HRs in 103 ABs. That’s virtually one home run for every 10 ABs. And with just 28 total hits, 35.7% of them have been home runs.
In comparison, a very disappointing Eric Hosmer has 10 HRs in 408 ABs and is 68% owned in Yahoo leagues. That’s a 63% ownership difference between Hosmer and Carter. I know a lot of ownership levels are based on name alone but if we could all get past what we thought Carter was and see what he is doing and becoming, he’d be a very valuable pick up and commodity for anyone needing power in general, specifically at the first base position. I understand your trepidation, gamers. I really do. I was leery of picking him up myself but needless to say I finally did and have been reaping the benefits ever since. Now is the time to pick him up. Under 10% owned in Yahoo and ESPN is criminally low.
It has come to the point where he’s in my lineup over guys like Brandon Belt and Yonder Alonso, both with a slightly higher ownership percentages. The one and only thing going forward to keep a close eye on is playing time. He has played on a regular basis during the month of August and it looks as if the A’s management now realizes they have finally found their first baseman of the future.
I recommend a Chris Carter pick up in all leagues right now and even recommend him as a borderline keeper. If he is fully endorsed as the A’s starting first baseman heading into next spring (which I do expect to happen), I’d then give my full endorsement on keeping him. Keep a very close eye on this situation next spring.
In summary, it looks like Carter is reaching his full potential this year and, with his low ownership numbers, is out there for the taking in all leagues. While it may have taken him longer than most highly-rated prospects to finally become a fantasy factor, like they say, “It’s better late than never”.
Will you be picking up Chris Carter or have you already? Do you feel he is finally for real and here to stay or are you still not buying into him? Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on Twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs.