The Texas Rangers lost again on Sunday in a familiar fashion. The offense failed to come through on several occasions with runners in scoring position and the bullpen blew the game late in three different innings. Texas has now lost nine of the last ten and have fell to second place in the division are only percentage points ahead of Houston.
One of the main issues on Sunday was the offense. The lineup went 2-17 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. That included only scoring one run in extra innings when each inning started with a runner in scoring position. The unit that has spent most of the season atop various offensive categories has been in a major slump. They scored five runs in the first four innings on Sunday and then scored one run in the next nine innings. Players that have been counted upon for production are now not producing.
If only Texas had someone that they could add to the roster that could come up and play solid outfield defense. If only they had someone they could call up that could work counts and be able to drive the ball from the left side of the plate. If only they had someone that excelled with runners in scoring position. Oh wait they do. The Rangers should add Evan Carter on September 1st when rosters expand. There are many reasons why they should, but I will focus on three. Carter makes the team better, will not overwhelmed by the moment despite his young age, and he will not lose his rookie status for the 2024 season.
Evan Carter is the best option in left field for the Texas Rangers
So far this season left field has been a mixture of several players this season: Robbie Grossman, Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, Travis Jankowski, and JP Martinez. No offense to any of these players, but Evan Carter brings more to the table than any of those players do.
Evan Carter on the season has a .282 batting average, a .409 on-base percentage, and an .863 OPS. In August though he has upped that on-base to .431 and the OPS to .878. One of the things that Carter does is fill up a stat sheet. In August he has 24 hits, 15 runs scored, five doubles, three triples, one home run, 11 RBIs, 20 walks, and 10 stolen bases.
He can impact the game in a variety of ways. He is like a swiss army knife. If you need a run driven in he can do that as he has a .343 batting average with runners in scoring position. If you need a pinch runner late in a game he can steal a base as he has 23 stolen bases on the season. If you need a play made in the outfield he can do that as he has a .990 fielding percentage this season and won a gold glove for his defense in 2022.
The question is who does he replace and this is the easiest question for me to answer and it is Travis Jankowski. Carter is a much better all-around player than Jankowski. It was a great story in the first half when Jankowski went from not making the team out of spring training to being their best left fielder. Jankowski since the All-Star break has a .212 batting average and a .545 OPS. Both are significant declines from the first half. He is in the midst of the worst of his season as he is hitting .164 in August with just nine hits in 55 at-bats. Carter would take his at-bats from there as well as subbing for Taveras in center in some games.
Evan Carter is not going to shrink from the spotlight.
One of the fears of promoting such a young player, especially straight from Double-A is that the major league environment and quality of players will be too much for some players. They will be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. I do not believe Carter would be that guy.
Carter recently sat down with Shawn McFarland of the Dallas Morning News(Subscription required) He had some interesting quotes that led me to believe that he would be ready if called upon. When asked about how he would react to failure he said,
"You’re going to go oh-for-whatever and have people saying awful things about you. Then you’ll get a hit and it’ll be this, that and the other thing. I don’t know, it’s a long season. You’ve got to play the long game instead of the short game.- Evan Carter
He seems to have his head on straight. One of the fears with prospects is calling them up too soon and hindering their development. If Texas called upon Carter I don't believe he would be damaged by what would be a premature promotion. If anything he would look at it as a challenge much like how he responded to the criticism after the draft. Carter said to McFarland about the draft night back in 2020,
"The people who did believe in me, the ones that support you along the way and especially yourself, it’s really cool to prove them right. Rather than prove the people wrong that just had an opinion you didn’t believe in."- Evan Carter
Texas could use someone with the attitude that Carter has. Chris Young and the front office will know that Carter will only add to this team with his mental makeup and will always find ways to contribute to the team winning games.
Calling up Evan Carter will not affect his rookie status
We are at the point in the season where if they call up Carter he will be able to hold onto his rookie status until next season or whenever the Rangers call up him next. He would be getting called at around the same time Jung was called up in 2022. He would be allowed to get his feet wet and still make a run at the Rookie of the Year award in 2024.
It also will not have much effect on his service time clock. Texas can call him up and still have his rights for another six years before free agency. So nothing is really lost there as well other than the starting of his service time clock.
Finally, the Rangers would maintain his three option years through the 2026 season as long as they do not option him back to Round Rock or Frisco before the end of the season. Carter would still be a rookie in 2024, the Rangers would still have six years of control after this season, and they would hold on to the right to option Carter back and forth for the next three seasons.
Can the Texas Rangers afford to not call Evan Carter to the Majors?
The Rangers are unfortunately now in a position where not making the playoffs is a possibility. They are only 2.5 games up on Toronto for the last playoff spot. It is no guarantee that they hold onto that spot. I do not know how Chris Young can say he did everything he could to help this team and not promote Evan Carter.
I have heard arguments about how his numbers are not good enough yet. That he has not dominated Double-A to a high enough level. That now is not the time to experiment. Yes it is not the ideal time to try this, but the lack of production from the left field spot begs the question would they get better production from Evan Carter than what they are getting from Jankowski, Josh Smith, or Robbie Grossman and I believe the answer is yes.
When looking at Evan Carter's numbers they are not super impressive, but remember this that he played for much of May with an injured wrist after he was hit by a pitch in April. That sapped his power numbers and made him a less effective hitter. It also eventually led him to being placed on the IL back in June for three weeks. If you take out that entire month he has a .299 batting average and a .982 OPS. He has two months of over 1.000 OPS and has been over an .800 OPS every other month except for May. He may not be ready, but they may have no choice.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result. Jankowski for as good as he was in the first half has resorted back to being the 4th or 5th outfielder he has been for most of his career. Grossman is a good DH, but a terrible defensive outfielder. I think we should see what Evan Carter can do from the bottom of the lineup and see if he can give this team the jolt of energy that it so desperately needs.