|Carter hits bombs but doesn't do anything else (RantSports)|
The 36 year-old free agent hasn't played since last year and is likely finished given his age and recent poor performance. But if you're a fan of Pena's and TTO players like him (Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds), fear not. One of his former teammates from Houston (what? he played for the Astros?) has taken up Pena's propensity for fanning, dingers, and low batting averages. Like Pena, he was shipped out of Oakland by Billy Beane early on in his career. Now he play's Pena's old position--first base--and wears Pena's old number--23.
His name is Chris Carter, and he is the righthanded version of Pena. Carter's numbers have been virtually identical to Pena's circa 2010-2012. In fact, Carter's 2013 is almost a dead-ringer for Pena's 2011, Pena's lone season with the beleaguered Chicago Cubs.
Pena 2011: 600 PA 497 AB 111 H 27 2B 3 3B 28 HR 80 RBI 2 SB .225/.357/.462 228 TB
Carter 2013: 585 PA 506 AB 113 H 24 2B 3 3B 29 HR 82 RBI 2 SB .223/.320/.451 228 TB
And since Opening Day 2011, their numbers are eerily similar as well:
Pena: 55 HR 166 RBI 435 K .210/.339/.394 .733 OPS 103 OPS+ 3.1 oWAR
Carter: 55 HR 148 RBI 382 K .217/.315/.445 .761 OPS 109 OPS+ 2.7 oWAR
Still toiling in mediocrity, Carter's on pace for similar numbers again this year, much like how Pena's 2011 was nearly a repeat of his 2010. Carter is what he is--a one-dimensional slugger--and has shown no willingness to cut down on his swing in hopes of sacrificing power for contact. He's currently batting below .200, but could very well wind up with 30 dingers. He's the top power source in Houston's lineup not named George Springer, and as long as he continues to bring the goods he'll remain their everyday DH.
But Pena showed how fast players of that ilk (see Jack Cust, Russell Branyan, Richie Sexson, Troy Glaus) can lose it. Once those fly balls stop leaving the yard, Carter won't have a shred of value and will be out of a job before long. Seeing as how he's in the heart of his prime at 27, that shouldn't happen for a few more years. When it does, it won't be pretty.
Until that day comes, let's appreciate Carter for what he is while we can. The rebuilding Astros might not have any better options at the moment, but it's only a matter of time before one comes along. And then Carter will be gone, long gone, like one of his many homers.