Fantasy
The quiet emergence of Chris Carter
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There's a time and a place for everything. And when they intersect, it can be quite beautiful.

With one glorious swing, Houston Astros designated hitter Chris Carter connected time and space Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. It came with one out in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game. David Robertson was on the mound and the count was 3-0.

Most hitters would have let the next pitch sail by for ball four. Carter is not like most hitters. The 6-foot-4, 248-pound force of nature delivered a hulking drive to left field. Four hundred and thirty-six feet later, the Astros were ahead 7-4. The home run, Carter's 30th of the year, was his longest since August 26, 2013.

In the grand scheme of things, Carter's mammoth, rocket-ship blast doesn't mean much. Neither team is headed for October baseball. It was one at-bat in a 162-game season. Big whoop.

But what the grand scheme fails to account for is the human spirit. Carter's story is one of perseverance. In four at bats prior to Carter's ninth inning missile, the slugger had been 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

That's a heavy dose of failure right there. But instead of resting the bat on his shoulder and calling it a night, Carter continued to swing for the fences ... even on 3-0.

People liked Bill Clinton because he was flawed. Maybe that's why we're so drawn to Carter. In addition to his 30 homers, Carter has a whopping 133 strikeouts and a batting average that would make Dan Uggla run for cover (.233 in 387 at bats).

Some of Carter's performances this year have been downright embarrassing. For example, he finished 1-for-14 with six punchouts against the Tigers in early May. A month later at Tropicana Field, Carter went 1-for-11 with seven whiffs versus Tampa Bay. Sadly, that's still better than what he did against the Nationals (0-for-10 with 6 K's).

Despite a penchant for arctic cold streaks, Carter has done more than enough to satisfy his fantasy owners this season. With 30 jacks in only 110 games, Carter has an outside shot at 40 homers. The last Astro to reach that threshold was Lance Berkman in 2006. And if anyone could ever get on base for him, Carter might have a chance to drive in 100 runs. His career-high is 82, a mark set last season.

Though Carter's all-or-nothing approach is quite endearing, it may soon be a thing of the past. The rapidly improving Carter already owns an impressive .298 average in 114 second half at bats. His strikeout rate has also gone down from 36.3 percent to a much more respectable 29.8 since the All-Star break. Of course, Carter's power has never wavered. His 11 second-half bombs are tied for the most in MLB.

Baseball players are creatures of habit and Carter may have finally found his niche. Sandwiched between Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler in the Houston batting order, Carter has hit .318 with 11 round-trippers in 107 at bats in the No. 3 spot. Anywhere else, he's hit just .200 with a remarkably high 37.1 percent strikeout rate.

Looking ahead, the Astros have a combined 24 games remaining against the Angels, Athletics, Mariners and Rangers. With 40 percent of his homers coming against these teams, you better believe Carter will be locked in.

In a sport where having a short memory is crucial, Carter may be one of the game's most resilient players. Keep chasing that carrot at the end of the stick, Chris. You're gonna get there someday.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.