Carter continues career year with HR No. 40

Brewers first baseman has personal bests in homers and RBIs this year

Carter continues career year with HR No. 40

DENVER -- In a single year, Chris Carter went from a nontender to a nice, round number.

The Brewers' slugging first baseman, cut loose by Houston and offered a fresh start with Milwaukee, became the sixth player in franchise history to reach the 40-homer plateau when he hit a solo shot in the fourth inning of Friday's 4-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Prince Fielder and Richie Sexson each had two seasons with the Brewers with 40-plus homers, while Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie and Ryan Braun had one apiece. The Brewers' most recent 40-homer season belonged to Braun in 2012, but Carter has now added his name to the list.

"It's definitely nice. It's a place I've never been," said Carter, whose previous career-high for home runs was 37, for the Astros in 2014. "I couldn't make it [to 40]. I ended up hitting [four] in September that year.

"Going into this month, I think I had 30, and it didn't really seem like it was a thing that was going to happen because I needed 10 more this month. I ended up getting here."

Carter also set the Brewers' single-season strikeout record, with 203 so far including one on Friday. But that came as no surprise, since he has struck out at the same rate (32 percent this season) in each of the last three years.

Carter has compiled those numbers by playing virtually every day. He and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado lead the National League with 158 games played.

"It's one of Chris' biggest strengths, and it's certainly something I value about him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He goes out there every day. It doesn't feel like he wears down. You put him out there and you get these 40 home runs.

"I'm happy for him. That's a milestone for anybody. Forty home runs is a big number. That's something to be happy about and something to be celebrated."

Carter was rookie general manager David Stearns first -- and only -- Major League free agent signing last winter, inking a one-year deal worth $2.5 million plus $500,000 in incentives, which Carter has already locked up. He won't be a free agent after the season, however, because Carter still has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining.

The NL home run race is coming down to the wire. Arenado preserved his lead by hitting No. 41 in the first inning on Friday. The Cubs' Kris Bryant has 39.

"Definitely when [Carter] hit his homer, I realized he was one behind me now," Arenado said. "He's a great hitter and he's had an unbelievable year. He's got a lot of power. He barely touched that ball and it went flying."

Arenado is enjoying the competition.

"Last year when I hit 42, [Bryce] Harper hit it the day after," he said. "It's always fun. That's what makes this game good."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.