After struggling following the All-Star Break, St. Louis Cardinals standout Matt Carpenter is heating up with a power surge coming at just the right time.
Carpenter was drafted out of Texas Christian University in the 13th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.
Why? Well, because of his tremendous power of course.
He was drafted because he was a hitting machine. Singles, doubles and occasionally some triples. He was also equipped with an uncanny ability to draw walks. He was the prototypical leadoff hitter and the Cardinals took a shot on him and brought him up to the Majors just two years later, where he played in just seven games as a big leaguer. It wasn’t until the next year that he started to blossom.
That season, he played in 114 games and posted a .294 average with 22 doubles – playing exactly as advertised. He also slugged six homers during that span, but again, his power wasn’t his bread and butter.
In 2012, he finished sixth in National League Rookie of the Year voting that also included a guy named Bryce Harper. However, this was a bright glimpse of what was to come from the young Texan. And if you were like me, I jumped and reserved a seat on that bandwagon right away.
I even picked him and kept him in my fantasy keeper league…and changed my name to Carpenter’s Union. Yeah, I was that guy. But hey, it paid off for me in 2013 when he got a full season under his belt.
If people didn’t know who Carpenter was by 2013, they soon found out. He played in all but five games for the Redbirds and he not only posted a .318 batting average, but also led the league in runs (126), hits (199) and doubles (55).
That production led to his first All-Star Game appearance in which he started at third base for the National League. Oh, and he even hit double-digits home runs as well, coming in with 11 long-balls.
Considering that he never hit more than 13 dingers while in the minors, nobody was expecting him to be a home run-hitting machine. He was still the on-base guy that led off most every game for the Cardinals, but this new side only added value to him.
2014 was a sort of down year for Carpenter as he only hit .272 but still helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs and hit a key bases-clearing double off Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS.
However, his “power” dropped again, as he only hit eight homers. It seemed as if maybe double-digit home runs were going to be hard to reach on a yearly basis. But hey, it’s not why the Cardinals drafted him in the first place. He was the guy to get on base and score runs. That was his job and he did it flawlessly.
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So what has he done in 2015?
He is hitting a career low .267 so far this year and was slumping hard for a while this season. He did reach the double-digit home run total of 10 but he had some people, including myself, believing that he may be trying too hard to hit homers or pressing while at the plate.
While watching games, I’ve noticed that he would be swinging under a lot of pitches and was caught frozen on too many called third strikes – a very uncharacteristic showing for Carpenter.
Then July 30 came and all of a sudden it was like Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk.
He went 4-for-5 with 2 homers and 4 RBI against the Rockies. But he wasn’t done. He followed that up with a home run the next day and continued his power surge with four more in six games from Aug. 4 to Aug. 9.
He not only surpassed his career-high of 11, but blew by it as he now has 17 long balls with 60 RBI. He has the potential to reach the 20+ homer mark if he keeps going strong. Whatever they’re feeding him in the Cardinal clubhouse is definitely helping.
So, moving forward, should the Cardinals anticipate 20 homers a year from Carpenter?
As a Cardinals fan, that would be great.
But as a realistic baseball fan, it’s probably not in the cards. Sure, it would be great, but St. Louis will be happy with whatever production he supplies for them if it means trips to the postseason and hopefully another trip to the World Series.