Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Joe Carter. Carter was the second pick in the 1981 draft by the Cubs, right after pitcher Mike Moore. He made his debut at the end of July of 1983 and showed a trait that would remain for his career: in 52 plate appearances he had zero walks. For his career he drew 527 walks, 86 of those were intentional.
Anyway, while back in the minors he was traded to the Indians with Mel Hall (sordid story that deserves its own column), Darryl Banks, and Don Schulze for Ron Hassey, George Frazier, and Rick Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe had a 2.69 ERA in 20 starts (the Cubs were 18-2 in the games he started) and won the Cy Young Award as the Cubs made their first postseason appearance since the world was at war for the second time. Carter would rapidly become one of the Indians’ better players – albeit for some pretty terrible teams. In 1986 he led the American League with 121 RBI. In 1987 he had 106 more. In his career he ten seasons of 100+ RBI, including six in a row from 1989 thru 1994 (the last one in only 111 games).
In December of 1989 Carter was traded to the Padres Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, and Chris James. Alomar won the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year Award, made six All-Star teams, and in 1997 won the All-Star Game MVP when he hit the game winning homerun off of Shawn Estes. Baerga made three All-Star teams before injuries and other issues led to his demise. In 1991 Chris James racked up nine RBI in a 20-6 rout of the defending American League Champion Oakland Athletics. Carter played one year in San Diego. Almost a year to the day in 1990 Carter and future Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar were traded to the Blue Jays for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff. Yes, Joe Carter was involved in franchise changing trades involving both of Sandy Alomar, Sr.’s boys.
In 1991 the Blue Jays won the AL East but lost to Minnesota in the ALCS. In 1992 the Jays won the pennant and the World Series, beating the Braves in six games. Dave Winfield had the big hit in that series, a game winning double in Game 6. The following year the Blue Jays made a repeat appearance in the Series, this time against the upstart Phillies. Carter stepped to the plate and on a 2-2 fastball down and in cranked the ball inside the left field foul pole, winning the World Series and only the second time a Series was ended by a homerun (Mazeroski being the first). Incidentally, in a fun stat quirk Carter’s World Series batting average of .280 was actually higher than his OBP (.250)
I mentioned Carter’s lack of control of the strike zone, and his .306 career OBP certainly points to that. But overall he hit 396 career homeruns, had 1445 RBI, made five All-Star teams, and four times finished in the top ten in the MVP voting. Add in the World Series, and I don’t think he had that terrible of a career.