The 2015 season is going exactly as we all planned it would back in the spring. The team has been in first place in the division almost all year. They are leading the league in home runs. They have a really good shot at going to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. All just as we predicted in the preseason, except for two things. First is George Springer having his hand broken. There is not much we can discuss there, unless you just feel like bashing the Royals. The second thing is the first base situation. That has been
an argument a conversation starter for most of the year. Let's look at the situation currently and into the near future.
Chris Carter won the first base job in spring training, which was expected by many. He was coming off a season with a 122 wRC+ even with a slow start. This season his bat threw a kink into the plans at the position. He started off slow again in 2015. Then the middle was also slow. And it looks like the end will look a lot like the beginning. He has an 83 wRC+ heading into the stretch run in September. In August he has started seven games, and only five of those at first.
From the way things look, first base will be handled the rest of this season the same way it has been handled since Jed Lowrie came back from his injury. Luis Valbuena will get the majority of starts. His offense seems to be normalizing from his weird stats in the first half. Over the last month his slash line has been.279/.353/.459, a far cry from his days with a sub-.200 BABIP. Marwin Gonzalez will get some starts there also. Carter may only get playing time if there is an injury, or possibly on some rest days for the rest of the season.
That leads us to the next question: If the Astros make the playoffs, does Chris Carter make the postseason roster? I think it comes down to how they would handle the pitching staff. Currently the team has thirteen pitchers on the staff. In the playoffs they shouldn't need that many, so there may be an extra spot there for him. But if they keep all the pitchers he could be left off.
Then the question would be "Why would they need him on the roster?" Not as a defensive replacement, since Valbuena and Gonzalez have shown themselves as better fielders (in smaller samples). Not as a pinch hitter, unless you are just hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Over his career he has gone 1-for-23 (yes...the one was a home run) with 14 strikeouts. This season he has ten plate appearances, one walk, zero hits, and eight K's. Combine that with the amount his playing time has been cut and all signs point to Carter not being added for the postseason.
As a guy who has defended (yet also has been frustrated by) Carter, I have to say it looks like he may be the odd man out for the rest of 2015. How he may or may not fit it beyond this season is a topic for another day.