In yesterday’s game against the Cubs, Chris Carter increased his season strikeout total as he had three more. With those three strikeouts, he took sole possession of the strikeout record by a batter in Brewers franchise history. The Brewers record had been previously held by Jose Hernandez, who struck out 188 times in 2002.
It’s not that Carter just set the strikeout record. He is set to demolish it. Not only did he break the record, he broke it with two weeks to spare. He will now have two weeks to continue to add on to that record. He’s been averaging four plate appearances a game, meaning he could get another 48 plate appearances before the end of the season. If he continues at his current rate (32.2 K%), he will finish the season with 206 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Carter’s current strikeout total puts him at 19th all time on the MLB single-season strikeout leaderboard. The leader on that board is Mark Reynolds (223), who makes four appearances on the list. While the MLB record is likely out of reach for Carter, his pace would put him around #6 on the all-time leaderboard at the end of the season.
While Carter’s strikeout pace has been high, it’s not the highest in a single-season in Brewers history. That belongs to Rob Deer, who had a 32.9 K% in 1987, as well as the second position at 32.8 K% in 1986. Carter’s current K% is fourth for a single-season in Brewers history. That list just includes players with 500 PA, which means it’s full-time players. If the list is expanded to 200 PA, to include significant part-time players, two Brewers from this year’s team (Keon Broxton, 36.1 K%) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (34.0 K%) appear above Carter on the list. Carter comes in at 8th place on that list.
It’s also important to note that the strikeout lead doesn’t mean that these players are bad players. Many players with these high strikeout totals provide plenty of value to the team, which is why the team is willing to deal with the strikeouts. The previous record holder for the Brewers, Jose Hernandez, put up an fWAR of 4.5 in 2002 and hit .288/.356/.378 that season. In Mark Reynolds’ MLB record-setting season, he finished 20th in the MVP vote. This season, Carter not only has the team lead in strikeouts, but is also tied for the team lead in walks, and has the team lead in home runs. As a result, it’s more desireable to deal with the strikeouts for the other advantages the player provides.
Carter is the strikeout leader now, but he’s still a valuable player to this franchise. He should factor into the Brewers plans for the next year or two, and will continue to provide value even with that high strikeout rate. Don’t condemn him for that high rate, no matter how high it gets this season.