Astros' Chris Carter keeps on slugging 

August, 13, 2014

Chris CarterTroy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsChris Carter's batting average will always be a liability, but his power will boost his value.
Perhaps Houston Astros outfielder Chris Carter will never win a batting title -- hey, crazy things do happen in this sport -- but let's give this low-average hitter plenty of credit for the fine season he's having. Carter smacked two more home runs Tuesday in a 10-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, giving him an impressive 28 on the season, fourth-most in the sport. That's a pace for 38, and with the run he's been on of late, it's reasonable to hope he'll breeze past that mark. Sure, Carter's hitting only .230, but a week ago he was at .219, and since the All-Star break he's hitting .307 with a 1.067 OPS. Put simply, Carter has been one of the most valuable hitters in fantasy for the past month, and now he's near 100 percent owned in ESPN standard formats. He deserves it.

So why is this happening, and is the drastic change in batting average sustainable? Well, Carter has reduced his legendary strikeout rate a bit this season, but it's still pretty high. It's also tough to extrapolate anything that's happened in the past 30 days and determine it's a new direction for a hitter who had proven to be a swing-and-miss slugger, and really he still is. Carter is 27, and he's not likely to change. A bloated BABIP since mid-July has helped his batting average, but the reason he's become so popular in fantasy is for the sheer power; Adam Dunn is used to this, even when not hitting his weight. Carter is playing regularly and hitting prodigious home runs. We should neither expect the power nor the batting average to continue at quite this rate, but enjoy it while it lasts.