Matt Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting third baseman has been coming through for the ball club at a very consistent rate in 2014.
Carpenter currently leads the starting players with an impressive .378 on base percentage, racking up 78 hits on the season so far. The utility player holds a .287 batting average with 272 trips to the plate. The 28-year-old lefty also poses a threat of gaining extra bases when he is at the plate. He has put up 19 extra base hits, 16 of which are doubles, one triple and two homeruns.
Being able to hit for doubles helps put Carpenter in great scoring position, being able to score over 40 runs this season. Having him as the lead-off hitter for the majority of the games this season has proven to be a wise choice by Card’s skipper Mike Matheny. With having Kolten Wong or Mark Ellis being able to set him up to be brought in by Matt Holliday or cleanup hitter Allen Craig, Carpenter is a steadfast lead-off hitter.
With the lineup having been changed around quite a bit since the acquisition of outfielder Peter Bourjos and healthy Allen Craig and Matt Holliday, Carpenter didn’t seem to have a future in the outfield. Having a bat like his, the Redbirds couldn’t leave him on the bench and he proved to be too valuable to the club to trade. After trading David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matheny needed to replace the 2011 World Series MVP with a reliable bat and glove. He did just that with putting Carpenter at third.
Having a dependable lead-off hitter is one thing, but add on a great glove and you have a deadly combination. Carpenter has played third base 68 games of his 70 starts this season, having a .952 fielding position and only has 8 errors on the season.
Boasting a player such as Carpenter is getting back to the roots of “The Cardinal Way.” Fundamentally sound baseball. Getting on base, putting himself in scoring position, making good defensive plays. This is what he has proven to the coaching staff, fan base and the rest of the league.
Maybe it’s the under-the-radar performance in a lackluster division. Maybe it’s the pregame rituals. Maybe it’s batting without batting gloves. Whatever it is that has made Carpenter an all around great player for the Cardinals, it’s working.
The question is, can he continue this success? Will he fall off in the remainder of the season? Will he coast out the rest of the season at the current rate? Or will Carpenter explode and become the All-Star caliber player every Cardinals fan is expecting? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I believe he will come through for the Cards when it matters most, putting them into position to be a force to be reckoned with come August and deep into the playoffs.