October brings out the best in players or the worst. The stage is white hot. You either sink, swim or fade away. The Cardinals were able to beat The Dodgers because they were able to pull some big work from their trio of Matt’s. A Carpenter, Hulk and Natural Big Man. Other teams have a hard enough time containing one but find it nearly impossible to stop all three. Just ask Clayton Kershaw. He hates all three.
First, a non baseball stat comment on these three young men. They aren’t just good ballplayers. They are good people and play the game right. They don’t cheat and they hustle. Sometimes, the simple things can be forgotten in this sabermetric driven game. Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Matt Adams don’t just say the right things but they let their performance drive their baseball personality and don’t feel the need to disrupt a honored tradition. They are humble and good guys. Now back to the stats.
In the Dodgers series, each player left a dent. All together, the three went 13-44(.295), with five home runs and 14 runs batted in. Carpenter led the way with 3 home runs, 7 RBI and 6 hits. Holliday cranked a three run game winning bomb in Game 1 along with starting two big 7th inning rallies off Clayton Kershaw. Adams only had 3 hits but he made them count, collecting an RBI single and series defining 3 run home run off Kershaw. All of his RBI came off the probable National League Cy Young award winner.
Each player had their moment. Carpenter seemed to redirect the series when he cleared the bases in Game 1 against Kershaw. Right when the Dodgers were planning their escape, Matt Holliday had two big 7th inning hits. Adams delivered the blow that changed the way people looked at predictions. All in all, they helped decimate Los Angeles and propel the Cardinals forward. They aren’t MV3 material but they played a big part in a big series win.
It hasn’t been an easy season for either player. Carpenter signed a big long term deal and had no way of matching his monstrous 2013 production. While he got on base at a rate of 37 percent and led the team in walks, runs scored and hits, Carpenter was continuously shifted out of the leadoff role for younger players with an on base percentage under .270. He had a good 2014 season and did his job, converting to third base and saving his best defense for last.
Matt Holliday collects the highest salary on the Cardinals roster and will be seen by a portion of Cardinal Nation as a bust no matter what he does. After a slow start, Holliday heated up and finished with 20 HR, 90 RBI, 37 doubles, 74 walks, and put together a .370 OBP along with a .441 slugging percentage. Some people will say that’s not enough but compared to what other outfielders who got a huge contract before the 2010 season, it’s right on par with his consistent production. If that is a down year, I will take it. He also hit .361 with runners in scoring position in 155 at bats.
Matt Adams faced critics all season due to his streaky power, the lack of Allen Craig’s contribution and his inability to get lefthanded pitchers. When you look at his season, the stats aren’t bad. It’s the perception and fleeting moments. Adams hit .288, slugged .457, played in 142 games, drove in 68 and hit 15 home runs. He also had 34 doubles and FIVE triples. If you looked at his salary, it would extremely hard to complain. The perception moving forward is what limits Adams. Is he an everyday player? What is his career projection? For now, he’s the guy for first base. He shattered the critics with his NLDS performance and the most criminally forgotten element of Adams’ game is his gold glove caliber defense.
Each player had their struggles in 2014 but in the most crucial of stages, they performed well. Their collective average wasn’t eye popping but when a big hit was needed in a close game, the Matt’s came through. A bloop, line drive or blast.
Moving forward as the Cards open up a clash with the Giants on Saturday, one can only hope the Matt’s continue to crank out the big hits. They all cover big ground in the lineup. Carpenter sets the stage, Holliday knocks him in and Adams waits in the 5th or 6th spot to deliver the big blow. These aren’t feeble Matt’s. They are powerful weapons.
If the Birds are to return to the World Series, they will need Matt-Tober to continue.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the time off before Saturday evening. Once that point is reached, the anxiety, hysteria and intensity sets in again.
Are you ready, Cardinal Nation?