Another long and grueling regular season is in the books, and on Tuesday the MLB playoffs get underway at last. Of the 12 teams still vying for a World Series title, the Texas Rangers are perhaps an afterthought.
The Rangers are newcomers to the postseason stage, having not appeared in the playoffs since 2016. They finished as the No. 5 seed (the second wild-card team) in the American League. Still, they aren’t satisfied with simply making it in; they want to advance past No. 4-seeded Tampa Bay and into the AL Division Series.
To do so, they will need continued quality production from rookie outfielder Evan Carter.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) September 11, 2023
The 21-year-old was a late addition to Texas’ roster. He spent most of 2023 with the Double-A Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders, before a brief stop in Triple-A as the best prospect in the Rangers’ farm system. On Sept. 8, the organization promoted Carter to the majors, and he made his big-league debut against the Oakland Athletics.
The Elizabethton, Tennessee, native singled in his very first MLB at-bat. Later in the game, he also walked and stole a base. The bright lights of Major League Baseball can intimidate some players, but not Carter.
Prior to his impressive performance, he took batting practice while wearing a shirt with the words “JESUS WON.” He also met with the media ahead of his MLB debut, and Carter began the session by praising God.
“I’m grateful,” he said. “I thank God for this opportunity.”
During the game, according to the Daily Citizen, his wife, Kaylan, said, “All the glory to God. Without Him, we wouldn’t be here.”
On the field, Carter continued to make the most of his God-given platform. For each of the next 15 games in which he had a plate appearance, he managed to get on base. Through 23 games with Texas, he has recorded 75 plate appearances with a batting average of .306, 19 hits (five home runs), 12 RBIs and 12 walks.
Carter’s patient yet productive plate appearances and playmaking defense have sparked a Texas team that struggled through much of August. The Rangers have gone 14-9 since Carter’s promotion, scoring at least nine runs in six of those games, to finish 90-72.
“I’ve had some pretty good players that were rookies and did a great job, and he’s right up there with how he’s handled everything,” first-year Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said of Carter, according to Inside the Rangers. “He just has a quiet confidence about him. Very calm. He plays the game. He slows it down. He’s taking close pitches, does a good job in the outfield, so he’s just been a shot in the arm for us.”
For Carter, everything begins and ends with his faith. It’s why he wore his “JESUS WON” shirt and why he prefaced his entire big-league career by thanking God. He’s not afraid to falter, because he knows Who will hold him secure in the end.
“I believe God’s got a plan for me,” he told MLB.com in March 2022.
Carter could be a key cog in Texas’ lineup in the best-of-three wild-card series against the Rays, as Tampa Bay is fifth in the majors in ERA and second in hits allowed. Game 1 is set for Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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