The past couple weeks Ashby, Blum, and Brownie have been talking about the extreme home/road splits for Chris Carter and I chalked it up to a statistical anomaly. Today in a fit of procrastination I looked up his splits and was surprised to find the following splits along with his total numbers for 2012.
Its hard for me to chalk up the difference to an anomaly anymore. Furthermore, comparing the splits to his 2012 numbers leaves me with the hope, even if unreasonable, that his true ability lies with the latter two and not his home splits or overall numbers this year. My first thought was that perhaps Minute Maid was having a negative effect on his numbers so I did a rudimentary check of his home and road spray charts. There have been 5 road homers by my count to straight away or right center which I don't believe would have been home runs at Minute Maid, though they could have still been hits. However there were also a few outs to left field that had the distance to be home runs at Minute Maid. This lead me to believe that the park itself wasn't causing the split difference.
Looking at his home spray chart lead me to another theory however. I think its possible that Carter's poor production at home could be the result of a poor approach during his home at bats. It may be possible that the Crawford Boxes are too enticing to Carter and that he dreads the size of the park between the alleys. His spray chart shows all 9 Minute Maid home runs going to left field. Its possible he is trying to pull the ball more often to reach the boxes. This could be leading him to get out in front of pitches more often which is causing his higher strikeout rate at home. It could also cause him to roll over pitches he does make contact on meaning weak grounders and his hellish batting average at home along with his weaker HR and XBH rates.
I believe that if you took his road AB's and last years AB's and placed them all in Minute Maid his production would fall in line with what those stats reflect. He would make some frustrating deep outs between the alleys but would make up for those with Crawford Boxes home runs and right field shots. I'm sure scouts and Astros employees much smarter than me are already talking and working with Carter on whatever his issues may be at Minute Maid this year. My hope is that his home splits will regress to his road splits while maintaining what he's accomplished on the road this year. That would be a 40 homer player that is a fixture in the lineup despite his strikeout rate.
Unfortunately though, his BABIP at home this year is .232 while .357 on the road. His BABIP last year was .295 and is overall .300 this year. That suggest that his splits may be an anomaly after all with regression due to both splits towards his overall decent but unspectacular numbers for 2013. I'll remain optimistic for now though that we'll see the 40 homer Trogdor do his thing in 2014 and beyond.