Oct 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter fields a ground ball during workouts the day before game one of the 2013 World Series Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
I simply could not leave this guy out of the top five, his performance in the 2011 playoffs without a doubt is what puts him up here. However, before we get to that, we will discuss Carpenter’s overall career as a Cardinal. Carpenter’s career started out as Toronto Blue Jay where he pitched along side great pitchers in Roy Halladay and Roger Clemens. Unfortunately injuries and mediocrity plagued Carpenter in Toronto, as he did not have one season with an ERA below 4.09 in his six seasons with the club.
Carpenter signed a deal after the 2002 season with the Cardinals and missed all of the 2003 season with an injury. Then Carpenter went from a pitcher that not many knew about to becoming the ace of the staff in 2004, where he went 15-5 with a 3.41 ERA (3.85 FIP) and posting a career high fWAR of 3.1. Unfortunately for Carpenter and the Cardinals, he went down with an injury in the last month of the season and was unable to pitch for the Cardinals in the 2004 postseason that ended in a World Series defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.
Despite his 3.07 ERA (3.28 FIP) and 133 ERA+ over nine seasons, Carpenter’s career could have been much more than it was. That is saying quite a bit for the two time World Series Champ and 2009 Cy Young Award winner. However, Carpenter missed all of the 2003 season, a portion of the 2004 season, most of the 2007-2008 seasons, as well as the majority of the 2012 season with varying injuries.
If you’re counting, that’s five seasons out of the nine that he played in, where he had some kind of injury problem. Now, the reason I say it could have been more, is given his postseason performances and the Cardinals’ lack of success and sustainability in the ’07-’08 seasons.
Had Carpenter been able to go for those seasons or the 2004 playoffs, things could have been a lot different for the Cardinals and we could be talking about a potential Hall of Fame pitcher here. However, all we have to discuss is Carpenter’s great postseason pedigree and wonder what could have happened. Carpenter pitched for the Cardinals playoffs in five different seasons, capturing the title in two of those five seasons.
In those five seasons, Carpenter was 10-4 with an even 3.00 ERA, including 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA over four starts in the two World Series wins. Carpenter’s best known for his unbelievable run in the 2011 playoffs where he outdeuled former teammate Halladay and pitched a gutty three games in the 2011 World Series to help the Cardinals clinch the title.
Next: John Tudor