Playoff Risers: Evan Carter

Playoff Risers: Evan Carter

This article is part of our Offseason Deep Dives series.

Shortly after the conclusion of the World Series (congrats, Rangers), my homie Chris Crawford and I got together on the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Podcast to discuss players who might have seen their stocks rise as a result of their postseason performance. You can check that out in audio form here, but I thought it would be worthwhile to write about some of those guys more in-depth, so that's what this piece will be exploring.

There's always some danger in trying to glean anything out of small samples, and the playoff samples qualify as relatively small. For example, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager led the way with 82 plate appearances among this year's postseason participants and only Nathan Eovaldi (36.2), Zac Gallen (33.2) and Jordan Montgomery (31) threw 30-plus innings. 

While that's not a ton of data to go on, it's not nothing. Also, perhaps even more important than the numbers themselves is how a good showing in the playoffs can enhance an organization's outlook on a player, which can act as a springboard heading into 2024. Let's take a look at one guy who is trending up post-Fall Classic.

Evan Carter

Imagine telling the Rangers that their No. 3 hitter during their World Series clincher would be a guy who just turned 21 who didn't make his major-league debut until Sept. 8. Evan Carter is no normal 21-year-old, though.

By now, many of you have probably heard the story. Carter wasn't viewed as a top prospect prior to the

Shortly after the conclusion of the World Series (congrats, Rangers), my homie Chris Crawford and I got together on the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Podcast to discuss players who might have seen their stocks rise as a result of their postseason performance. You can check that out in audio form here, but I thought it would be worthwhile to write about some of those guys more in-depth, so that's what this piece will be exploring.

There's always some danger in trying to glean anything out of small samples, and the playoff samples qualify as relatively small. For example, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager led the way with 82 plate appearances among this year's postseason participants and only Nathan Eovaldi (36.2), Zac Gallen (33.2) and Jordan Montgomery (31) threw 30-plus innings. 

While that's not a ton of data to go on, it's not nothing. Also, perhaps even more important than the numbers themselves is how a good showing in the playoffs can enhance an organization's outlook on a player, which can act as a springboard heading into 2024. Let's take a look at one guy who is trending up post-Fall Classic.

Evan Carter

Imagine telling the Rangers that their No. 3 hitter during their World Series clincher would be a guy who just turned 21 who didn't make his major-league debut until Sept. 8. Evan Carter is no normal 21-year-old, though.

By now, many of you have probably heard the story. Carter wasn't viewed as a top prospect prior to the 2020 Draft, but the Rangers used a top-50 pick on him, anyway, in what is looking like a triumph for the organization's scouting department.

Carter has displayed an advanced approach at the plate since turning pro, leading to him being granted the nickname "Full Count" by teammates. It's a skill made all the more impressive by the fact that he was consistently much younger than the players he was going up against. Across 246 games and 1,134 plate appearances in the minors, Carter boasted a 15.8 percent walk rate and 19.4 percent strikeout rate.

Carter put up a .284/.411/.451 batting line with 12 home runs and 22 stolen bases over 97 games at Double-A Frisco to earn a promotion to Triple-A Round Rock in late August. He was at Round Rock for only eight games (getting on base at a .436 clip) before the Rangers decided to call him up when Adolis Garcia went down with a knee injury.

I'm not sure if Texas intended to keep Carter around and play him regularly after Garcia returned (he wound up missing just over the minimum 10 days), but he made the decision for them with his performance. The 21-year-old received 75 plate appearances down the stretch of the regular season for the Rangers and slashed .307/.413/.645 with five home runs and three stolen bases. He also earned rave reviews for his play in the outfield.

All but one of Carter's 19 starts in the final month of the regular season came from the ninth spot in the lineup, and in the other game he was in the eight hole. He batted ninth in each of the two games against the Rays in the Wild Card Series, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, a hit by pitch and a stolen base. Manager Bruce Bochy had seen enough at that point, moving Carter up to the five spot and eventually the three hole. Carter finished the Rangers' postseason run with a .300/.417/.500 batting line, one home run, nine doubles and three stolen bases. He reached base in all 17 contests.

Carter showed some positives with his batted-ball data during the regular season with the Rangers, as well. In an admittedly small sample size of 39 batted balls, the youngster collected a 46.2 percent hard-hit rate and 10.3 percent barrel rate. He also boasted a microscopic nine percent chase rate. To provide some context for that number, note that Edouard Julien led all qualifiers in chase rate at 14.3 percent.

Carter showed off his baserunning ability during his time with Texas as well. After stealing 26 bases in the minors prior to his promotion, Carter went 6-for-6 on stolen bases attempts covering 40 games and 147 plate appearances. With a sprint speed in the 96th percentile and with his ability to draw a walk likely to afford him plenty of stolen base opportunities, Carter looks to have ample upside in that category.

It wasn't all puppy dogs and ice cream for Carter. The 21-year-old struck out at a rate of 32 percent during the regular season with the Rangers and fanned at a rate of 26.4 percent during the playoffs. From Game 3 of the ALCS on, Carter's strikeout rate spiked to 34.1 percent, which included a four-strikeout game during the clincher.

Carter also did nearly all of his damage against right-handed pitching. Combining his splits from the minors and majors in 2023, Carter batted only .242/.349/.253 with zero home runs versus left-handers. He went 0-for-10 with six strikeouts against southpaws during the regular season for the Rangers. Texas faced a lefty twice during the playoffs (not including opener Joe Mantiply) and Carter was on the bench both times. I can't imagine the Rangers want to relegate Carter to a strict platoon role already, but it's clearly something he must overcome. Even in a best-case scenario, if Carter does play against lefties he'll likely be situated at or near the bottom of the batting order.

The Rangers do have Wyatt Langford on the way, but he seems likelier to push Leody Taveras aside than Carter to me. Carter should open the 2024 season as Texas' primary left fielder, but he's very capable in center as well.

Carter has plenty working in his favor. His batting eye at such a young age is special and he's already shown that skill will carry over to the major-league level. He has legitimate speed and appears likely to use those wheels often on the basepaths. Carter's exit velocities in the minors were middling, but he should continue to tap into more power as he gains strength, and Globe Life Field ranks in the top-third of the league for lefty power according to Baseball Savant's Park Factors. I do worry about his ability to hit lefties and, to a lesser degree, the strikeouts. It's possible Carter will ultimately require a bit more seasoning before reaching his potential, and his early NFBC ADP of 130 does seem a bit high to me. The long-term upside, however, is unquestionable.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Boyer
Ryan has been writing about fantasy baseball since 2005 for Fanball, Rotoworld, Baseball Prospectus and RotoWire.
Spring Training Job Battles: NL Central
Spring Training Job Battles: NL Central
College Baseball Picks Today: Best Bets for Friday, March 1
College Baseball Picks Today: Best Bets for Friday, March 1
Six Mid-Round Pitchers with League Winning Upside (Video)
Six Mid-Round Pitchers with League Winning Upside (Video)
Five Sneaky Outfielders We Can't Stop Drafting (Video)
Five Sneaky Outfielders We Can't Stop Drafting (Video)