Gary Carter by the numbers

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As we mourn the passing of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, here’s a look at the numbers for “The Kid.”

– Carter played 19 seasons in the big leagues before retiring after 1992; 12 with the Expos, five with the Mets and one each with the Giants and Dodgers.

– He hit .262/.335/.439 with 324 homers and 1,225 RBI in 7,971 at-bats.

– Carter was named to 11 NL All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers. He finished as high as second (1980) and third (1986) in the NL MVP balloting.

– Among those who played at least 50 percent of their games as catchers, Carter is tied for fifth all-time in homers. He ranks seventh in RBI and ninth in runs scored.

– Baseball-reference’s WAR rates him among the NL’s top eight position players every year from 1977-85. He was second in 1982, when he hit .293/.381/.510 with 29 homers and 97 RBI.

– In the 1980s, there were seven 100-RBI seasons for catchers: four by Carter and one each from Lance Parrish, Ted Simmons and Carlton Fisk.

– Carter led the NL with 106 RBI in 1984. The only catcher since to lead his league in RBI was the Phillies’ Darren Daulton in 1992.

– Carter is the last player to hit two homers in an All-Star Game, doing so in 1981. He won the All-Star Game MVP award that year and again in 1984.

– A member of the World Series champion Mets in 1986. He hit .276 with two homers and nine RBI in the seven games against the Red Sox that year. Overall, he hit .280 with four homers and 21 RBI in 30 postseason games.

– Fourth all-time in games caught at 2,056. The only players with more are Ivan Rodriguez (2,427), Fisk (2,226) and Bob Boone (2,225).

– Retired as the game’s all-time leader in putouts by a catcher. He’d since been passed by Rodriguez, Jason Kendall and Brad Ausmus.

– Along with Yogi Berra, Jim Sundberg and Kendall, Carter is one of just four players to catch at least 90 percent of his team’s games in five different seasons (stolen from Tim Kurkijan’s fine obituary on ESPN.com).

Bryce Harper is really just a tiny bit better Adam Lind when you think about it

Associated Press
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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post writes about an important matter facing the Washington Nationals over the next year: what to do about Bryce Harper, who is entering his walk year and will be a free agent a little over 12 months from now.

That’s a fine and important question. The Nats do need to decide whether to offer Harper a long term deal, when to offer it and, above all else, how big that deal should be. Should it be $300 million? $400 million? Should it be conventional or unconventional, with opt-outs and such? It’s not every day that a generational talent comes along and it’s even more rare that the generational talent hits free agency at the age of 26, so the decisions facing the Nationals are not easy ones.

Boswell acknowledges that bit of trickiness, but he also, strangely, spends a whole lot of time trying to portray Harper as an ordinary talent. He starts with health, comparing him poorly with Stephen Strasburg, who is ranked 30th in games started over the past five years. In contrast . . .

In those same five years, Harper ranks 90th in games played, just 126 a season, and now he says he should have skipped quite a few more games in 2016 when he had a balky shoulder. That’s almost six weeks out per season.

Nowhere in the column is it mentioned that the several weeks he missed in 2017 was the result of a freak injury in wet conditions and that, despite that, Harper worked his tail off to come back and be ready for the postseason. Not that Boswell doesn’t mention the postseason of course . . .

Harper, for the fourth time, failed to lead his team out of the first round and has career playoff batting average and OPS marks of .215 and .801. By the high standards of right fielders, he’s Mr. Average in October.

I suppose it’s not Boswell’s job to refrain from insulting a player on the team he covers, but he certainly seems hellbent on insulting not only Harper, but our own intelligence via comparisons like this:

In the past five years, in those 126 games, Harper averaged 26 homers, 72 RBI and a .288 average. Over the last nine years, Adam Lind averaged 128 games, 20 homers, 70 RBI and hit .273. That’s selective stat mining. Harper is much better, in part because he walks so much. But Harper and Lind in the same sentence?

“A person can eat delicious chocolate cake or lead paint chips. The chocolate cake is much better, but chocolate cake and lead paint in the same sentence?” I guess Boswell gets points for acknowledging that it was a misleading comparison, but if he thinks it is, why make it in the first place? If you want to eliminate this one as an outlier, cool, because he makes a lot of other comparisons like that in the piece.

This is not necessarily new for Boswell. Here’s something he wrote about Harper in 2014:

Harper has not driven in 60 runs in either of his two seasons. He has only five RBI this year. He’s never had more than 157 runs-plus-RBI. Ryan Zimmerman has had between 163 and 216 six times. Adam LaRoche, no big star, has had 175 or more three times. Fourth outfielder Nate McLouth once had 207. Can we get a grip? Counting their three top starting pitchers, Harper may be the Nats’ seventh-best player. If forced to choose whether Harper or Anthony Rendon would have the better career, I’d think twice. Harper is in a self-conscious, fierce scowl-off with baseball. Rendon dances with it and grins. Baseball loves relaxed.

That was written 16 games into his age-22 season.

I’m not sure what Boswell’s beef with Harper is. I’m not sure why he’s contorting himself to portray him as an ordinary player when he is fairly extraordinary and, most certainly, a special case when it comes to his impending free agency. In his career he already has 26.1 career bWAR, 150 homers, an MVP Award under his belt and, if it wasn’t for that freak injury in August, would have a strong case for a second one. Guy has a career line of .285/.386/.515 and he turned 26 four days ago. He’s younger than Aaron Judge.

My view of things is that players should ignore the media for the most part, but they don’t always do that. Sometimes the hostility or criticism of the local press — especially from the most respected portions of the local press who have the ability to shape fan sentiment — gets to them.

Which is to say that, if this kind of noise keeps up, I wouldn’t be shocked if Harper puts up a line of .340/.480/.650 in 2018 and then walked the hell out of D.C. for New York or Chicago or L.A. or something. Would anyone blame him?