Full Count Carter
Evan Carter (TEX): 1-2, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
It’s late September and this is where things are always really hectic with teams scrambling to secure playoff spots. Such is the case for the Rangers, who after last night’s 8-5 win over the Mariners have a one-game lead for the spot in the AL West. That win, of course, might not have been possible if not for this man’s three-run dinger to right in the second off Bryce Miller (400 feet, 103.6 mph EV).
Carter is an interesting story because thanks to the pandemic snuffing out his senior season, he was a relative unknown when the Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft. However, he has since emerged as a consensus top-10 prospect and for the Rangers, he’s definitely given them some much-needed juice late in the season with a .324/.447/.676 slash through 14 games.
So what’s the skinny on Carter? Actually, come to think of it he is quite skinny. Anyway, Carter has a potential five-tool upside. But his biggest strength is his eye at the plate. He earned the nickname Full Count Carter this spring thanks to his stellar pitch recognition and his penchant for annoying pitchers with pesky at-bats. And we saw that all season in the minors where he slashed .288/.413/.450 across three levels.
He also went 26 for 37 on stolen base attempts. Carter has banged out three home runs so far but I think if I had to guess that’s the one part of his game that’s probably a bit below league-average.
Still, it’s hard to argue with the results, and with only a week to go, why not ride out the hot hand with a guy who can contribute across the board? He’s started all but two games since getting the call and should remain a fixture for the Rangers who will finish their regular season next week with three against the Angels and then four at Seattle.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Curtis Mead (TB): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
The Rays called up Junior Caminero before the game but it was Mead who got the start at 3B. The 22-year-old Australian rookie tattooed a 0-1 changeup from Chris Bassitt for his first career home run, a solo shot line drive that hooked just inside the left field foul pole (336 feet, 100.3 EV). Mead hasn’t received much playing time since getting called up on September 12th, but he showcased his abilities with a .900 OPS a 12.6% BB rate, and a 17.3% K rate in 61 games with Triple-A Durham.
TJ Friedl (CIN): 2-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, SB.
Friedl’s two-run home run in the sixth briefly off Chris Stratton gave the Reds a 5-4 lead over the Pirates. It’s also the lefty’s 15th home run of the season, which is one shy of doubling his previous high from last year. Power is not a big part of Friedl’s game (35 via PLV) but he’s stolen 25 bases while hitting .275 with a .345 OBP so he’s given the Reds some decent production near the top of their order. It’s probably a small sample fluke, but he’s had better splits against LHP (.915 OPS) than RHP (.765 OPS).
Manny Machado (SD): 4-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Sure, the Padres have been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball this season, but you’ve got to give some credit to Machado who has acknowledged he’ll likely need offseason surgery on his elbow; he’s playing through it until the Padres are officially eliminated from the playoffs. His two-run dinger in the eighth off Matthew Liberatore gave the Padres a 4-2 lead and it was also his 30th of the season. He’s hitting a career-low .253 this season and his .316 OBP is just a few points ahead of his career-low mark from 2017. But if you’re willing to gamble on his track record, he should make for a pretty decent bounce-back candidate next year.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 4-4, 2B, 3 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI.
At this point, checking the score of the Yankees game means asking if this man did anything. I’m a bit perplexed as to why teams don’t pitch around him given the state of this lineup. I’m sure D’Backs fans are thrilled given how tight the standings are in the Wild Card race. Perhaps tonight we should let someone other than this Judge fellow beat us. Anyway, the reigning MVP last night became the first Yankee in history to hit three home runs in a game twice during one season. He also has 35 home runs in 100 games played. Madness. The longest one of the night was 420 feet, I know kind of disappointing, right?
Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
As Ben Rosener details here, Seiya Suzuki has been nothing short of a late-season hero for fantasy managers. Suzuki’s 20th of the season came courtesy of right-hander Noah Davis, a two-run shot to left (394 feet, 103.2 mph EV) that propelled the Cubs to a much-needed 6-0 win over the Rockies. He’s now hitting .281 with a .835 OPS solid improvements relative to last year’s marks of .262 and .769.
Christian Yelich (MIL): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, BB.
Safe to say Yelich made his presence felt in returning to the Brewers lineup for the first time since the 15th. Hopefully, you had him in your lineup. His second of the night was a three-run smash to straightaway center off George Soriano (430 feet). The big night against his old team as Yelich up to a .814 OPS, his highest since 2019.
Masyn Winn (STL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
The Cardinals’ top prospect hit his second of the season thanks to a floating knuckleball from Matt Waldron. He hasn’t made much noise but he’s been playing every night. The 21-year-old rookie posted a .834 OPS with 18 home runs and 17 steals across 105 games with Triple-A Memphis, so the upside is there. Maybe this gets him going.
Alex Kirilloff (MIN): 1-2, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Kirilloff actually didn’t start this game. Regardless, he cranked his 10th of the year in the sixth inning off right-hander Davis Daniel. Kirilloff also didn’t start Wednesday’s game against Hunter Greene and the Reds, so I’m not entirely sure what is going on with his playing time. Still, the Twins close the season with a beautiful batch of games: two more against the Angels, three vs. OAK, and then three at Colorado.
Brett Baty (NYM): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Baty returned from a groin injury this past Wednesday and has since banged out two home runs. The Mets have made an oddly concerted effort to avoid deploying Baty against left-handers. Why not give him a chance to prove himself at this point? Anyway, let’s keep an eye on him as a potential post-hype player for next season.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI.
Your NL MVP became the fifth player in history with a 40-40 season. Yes, I know new rules have made steals different this year. But still.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Hayes’ 15th of the season came courtesy of a fastball from Reds rookie Andrew Abbott, a solo shot the other way to right. The flyball almost certainly wouldn’t have made it out in another park at 351 feet. And it was also hit at 92.9 EV, which has to be down there as one of the lowest EVs from a dinger this year. Regardless, Hayes is up 15 dingers, more than doubling his previous high from last year. Pirates’ rookies Henry Davis and Endy Rodríguez also went yard.
Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare