Through 36 games in 2015, Chris Carter has had 142 plate appearances, and 123 at-bats. Through 36 games in 2014, Chris Carter had 140 plate appearances, and 123 at-bats. Let's take a look at the numbers shall we?
Carter through 36 games in 2015: .163/.268/.325, 6 HR, 17 BB, 55 K
Carter through 36 games in 2014: .187/.279/.398, 5 HR, 14 BB, 45 K
In the next 109 games that Carter played last season, he hit .240/.317/.521 with 32 home runs and Astros fans fell in love. However, to break this down even further, Carter didn't truly take off until early July. In his first 73 games, he hit .182/.263/.401. Despite his big home run in Houston's win Saturday over the Blue Jays, Carter has started slow to say the least. His defense has been surprisingly passable at first base, but for those who expected him to pick up where he left off following a final three months of epic proportions, it's been a disappointment.
Despite all of his struggles, Carter has started 34 of 38 games at first base for Houston. Marwin Gonzalez has seen some action at first, but since Jed Lowrie's injury, the need at shortstop has been greater.
Meanwhile, in AAA, former first base prospect Jon Singleton, like Carter, has had a similar start to 2014.
Singleton through 36 games in 2015: 160 PA, 133 AB, .263/.381/.602, 12 HR, 26 BB, 31 K
Singleton through 36 games in 2014: 160 PA, 133 AB, .293/.406/.624, 11 HR, 26 BB, 36 K
The strikeouts are slightly down in 2015, while the batting line was slightly better a year ago, although the sample is still a bit small to take away any big conclusions. Houston still would have signed Singleton to the 5-year, $10 million deal that was agreed to last season if he had his 2015 line. Now, Singleton was rough to say the least in his 95 games with Houston in 2014. He managed just a 79 wRC+ and hit .168 while striking out 37 percent of the time.
Carter has struggled, but history tells us to be patient. However, in the past Houston did not have the best record in the American League. Patience didn't really matter since the playoffs were not a possibility. If Carter's struggles continue and Singleton continues to rake, when should the two begin to share time?
This week's Starting Nine question:
How should the Astros handle their first base situation going forward?
Stand pat. The Astros aren't hurt by leaving Singleton down (they're still winning without him) and being patient with Carter and Gattis. Carter in particular, who can't seem to get it going. Gattis actually has a 101 wRC+ during May, making him below-average for the 1B/DH position, but above-average as a batter. But both of those guys have a hilariously low BABIP which, if they sustain it all season, would put them among the lowest season BABIP's since 1871. That won't happen, and both will regress towards their norm. Gattis has already showed signs of turning it around, and Carter has never finished a full season with a wRC+ lower than 112. Demoting either guy would be short-sighted, and if both are still on the roster, Singleton will just have to bide his time.
I agree with Chris. Until Singleton has a prolonged stretch of success in Triple-A there's no reason to call him up with the current logjam. He's on a good stretch but he's not quite knocking the door down like Correa.
Gattis and Carter will hit better. They're both very volatile offensive pieces who either look like complete zero's or team MVP's. Even if you want to see them traded then it makes sense to keep trotting them out there until they hit their hot stretches to build their value.
I'm a little more concerned with the potential Preston Tucker logjam. Which turns into the 1B-DH-LF logjam. If Tucker keeps hitting the Astros need to keep putting him in the lineup. Maybe they can come up with a platoon for Rasmus, Tucker, Carter, and Gattis to all get enough AB's. Or maybe someone will be the odd man out. Either way 2015 is awesome.
I'm probably not going to be as patient as some of the other answers, but I wouldn't do anything just yet. Let's see Singleton keep it up through at least the end of the month. If Carter or Gattis hasn't gotten going by then, well, perhaps then you could do a swap and let them figure it out in AAA instead of continuing to struggle in the lineup of a playoff hopeful. Gattis has at least one option for sure, and I believe Carter does, too, so there wouldn't be any harm in letting them cool their heads in AAA for a while if things are still looking bad. But right now would still be a little too soon for me, as painful as they are to watch right now (Carter especially).
Oh, like most of the others here, I would keep Singleton in AAA for a month, maybe more, longer. He had enough holes exposed in his last ML experience that I would want to see more than just a hot streak. I am also concerned about the defensive implications of Singleton at first base, given that Carter seems to have improved his fielding and defense has been a big part in the team's improvement. I was disappointed in Singelton's defense last season. I might be inclined to give Singleton more time at DH than 1st base. Also, the playing time can get split up if Singleton is largely platooned, since he is LH and Gattis and Carter are RH. I am starting to think that it wouldn't be a bad idea to give Gattis occasional starts at catcher. If Tucker is in the lineup, Gattis will not play LF, and he doesn't have much experience at 1B. If he can catch every so often, it's another way to get his bat in the lineup.
Okay, I'll draw fire on this one: why not trade Singleton? (If you don't get a sufficient offer, yes, be patient with him as others are arguing. That might only raise his value, as he's shown he can dominate in the minors.)
We have a real logjam. He has an incredibly team-friendly contract that enhances his value. His recent AAA surge will have also likely raised his value. There are still concerns about his long term viability in terms of defense and consistency at the plate. He would go along way toward prying a good starting pitcher from someone, which, apparently, the FO is looking to acquire.
Stand pat. Carter and Gattis are going to come around. We just need more plate appearances to happen before making a big decision there.