Ed. note: Once again, this is an attempt to get more content out despite limited writing time. Think of these as what could be a single item in a normal 3 Things. You'll get used to it eventually.
Quick. What did Chris Carter hit in 2013?
How many home runs did he have a year ago?
During the course of a season, it's hard to judge sample sizes. We all get caught up in it. We know not to trust things until bigger samples reveal themselves, but we get caught up in Carter's majestic second half all the same.
To answer those questions, here are Carter's numbers in 2013 and 2014.
2013 - .223/.320/.451 with 29 home runs
2014 - .227/.308/.491 with 37 home runs
Bet you didn't expect that Carter, in the year he made the leap, to have hit just four points better in average and 12 points lower in on-base percentage.
His strikeout rate fell by five percent to a marginally-respectable 31 percent this season, but his walk rate also fell. His second half numbers proved good, but hardly revelatory. He hit .252/.338/.521 in the second half with a 31 percent strikeout rate.
Whatever changes he made in his approach made a difference. But, a bigger difference between Carter in the first half and second could be something as simple as batting average on balls in play. After posting a meager .237 in the first half, Carter had a .301 BABiP in the second half.
In 2013, he posted a .311 BABiP for the season.
If Carter was a more productive player for Houston, it wasn't because he suddenly tapped into his monster potential. It's because his adjustment caused him to make better contact, raising his BABiP. Being a full-time designated hitter limited his defensive liability, too.
Carter had a good season. But, when viewing 2014 as a whole, it doesn't look like Carter had a markedly different season from a year ago. He won't hit .300 like he did in July.
In fact, if I had to project him into 2015, I'd say Carter will hit .230/.320/.480 with 32 home runs.