The Yankees were looking to add a power bat this offseason and one rising slugger fell right into their laps in former Milwaukee Brewers feast or famine bomber Chris Carter.
Before Oakland’s Khris Davis (42 homers) and Carter (41 homers) eclipsed the plateau in 2016, only nine brothers had hit 40 homers in a season since 2000. Some did it multiple times, but most of the guys on the list did it just once: Ryan Howard, Barry Bonds, Curtis Granderson, Ken Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder, Jermaine Dye, Gary Sheffield, Frank Thomas and Halle Berry’s old flame David Justice.
Carter signed with the Yankees for one year and $3.5 million. That seems like a heist for a 30-year old in just his fourth season as a starter who hit an NL-leading 41 homers. I guess teams don't value the homer as they once did. Doesn't make Carter's knack for hitting dingers any less impressive. In those four seasons as a starter, he’s averaging 32.75 blasts and hasn't ever hit fewer than 24 in his six MLB seasons. His Isolated Power (ISO), which measures extra bases per at-bat, was fifth in MLB in 2016, so when he puts bat to ball, good things happen.
The problem with Carter is that he’s a strikeout waiting to happen. He led the league with 206 strikeouts last year, and has finished first and second in that category in previous seasons. Carter is a throwback all-or-nothing nightmare like Dave "Sky Kong" Kingman, a player who hit 442 homers but was K-crazy and hit .236 for his career.
Carter gets his share of walks, but he’s a .218 career hitter, with an OBP of just .314 and he’s slower than the 1983 version of Al Roker. Just call him “The Black Adam Dunn.”
Another 40-homer campaign under the bright lights of the Bronx and a few clutch connections against some AL East rivals can quickly change Carter's financial fortunes.
Maybe he keeps progressing and becomes a better contact hitter. Or maybe Carter, now with his fifth MLB organization, keeps bouncing around as a brown bomber for hire. Few ballers can give you those power numbers year in and year out. With Carter, you just have to take the bad with the good. It might just work out for the Yankees, who haven’t had a legit African-American power hitter since Curtis Granderson.