Exit Interview: Matt Carpenter

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

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Player: Matt Carpenter

Season stats:  158 games,  709 PA,  99 R,  33 2B,  2 3B, 8 HR,  59 RBI,  95 BB, 111 K, .272/.375/.375  111 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 17, Goat 13

Overall grade: A

Positives: While he couldn’t copy last year’s numbers, Carpenter turned in another fine season while moving back over to third base….continues to haunt Clayton Kershaw, coming through with a bases-loaded double that brought the Cards all the way back….led the league in walks….saw over 3100 pitches in the regular season, an average of 4.36 per plate appearance.

Negatives: Had a bit of a rough second half, at least in batting average (.255 vs. .283, though the other rate stats were fairly stable)….hit .238 in August….only hit .233 with two outs in an inning, though he did hit three home runs in such situations.

Overview: It’s tough to make an impact on the fan base when you have Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on the squad, but Carpenter is definitely right up there with the Cardinal faithful.  Nobody expected him to have another year like 2013, when he set all sorts of (likely) career highs, but he didn’t slump much from those highs and again proved to be an unlikely but extremely efficient leadoff man.

Carpenter works pitches like I work words–the more the better.  His at-bats are amazing things to watch.  And when he got ahead of the pitcher?  .307/.545/.441.  You’ve got to come after him, but he’ll hit it if you do.  Nibbling isn’t going to work because he’s got a knack of fouling balls off until he gets the one he wants.  Then it’s a liner in the gap and he’s off to second.  To see him be able to approximate last season gives a great bit of hope that he’s not going to come to earth anytime soon.  Then again, we thought that about Allen Craig…..

Outlook: Carpenter will be starting at third and leading off for quite some time to come.  This offense will only click when he’s going well, so hopefully that will be quite often again in 2015.

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