I was looking at the box score of the Giants-Dodgers game today, and aside from the fact that the Dodgers are thumping the Giants, I noticed that Jamey Carroll was having a big day (2-for-2 with a couple of walks and three runs scored), and it got me thinking about how much Carroll has changed since he first came up in 2002.
Carroll didn’t establish himself as a legitimate major league player until he was 29-years-old. He started his career with the Expos, during their death spiral, and, to the extent that I paid attention to, what the Expos and Carroll were doing, I didn’t think he’d stick around for more than a couple of seasons as a backup infielder.
Very quietly, however, he’s had a terrific career for a player who reached the major leagues so late. Carroll isn’t a true star, but he is an extremely valuable platoon and bench player. He plays second base (well, according to fangraphs), third base (average defense), short stop (slightly below average defense), and on occasion the corner outfield positions. Meanwhile, he has a career .354 on-base percentage, which is just tremendous for a middle infielder who can give you the flexibility Carroll can.
Carroll has no power (his career slugging percentage is lower than his OBP), but he runs pretty well, so he makes a great table setter. In fact, he has well more than twice as many runs scored in his career as runs batted in.
Carroll has mostly played for bad, low-profile teams like the Expos, Nationals, and Indians, although he played two seasons in Denver and had his best season there in 2006. He looked like his career might be over after poor seasons at age 31 and 33, but he’s now had three strong seasons in a row as a guy who gets about 350 to 400 plate appearances a season and plugging holes as more respected players get injured or don’t perform.
Carroll is making a shade over $1.5 million with the Dodgers this year, and with a .397 OBP so far, he’s been a bargain.