St. Louis Cardinals: Five bold predictions for 2016
Matt Carpenter will contend for an MVP award
This isn’t my boldest prediction, especially since Matt Carpenter finished 12th in MVP voting last year, but I still have to make it. To make it more interesting I’ll define the term “contend” as “finishing as one of the top three vote-getters.” This will certainly be a challenge for Marp, but I believe the St. Louis Cardinals’ third baseman is up to the task.
The real fun starts, though, when we start talking about how Carpenter succeeds, and intriguingly I think it has little to do with him. Rather, the umpires and the league will seek to reverse the trend of calling the ball off the plate to lefties a strike.
With Carpenter as the poster child for this sort of thievery, he’ll benefit even more than the average lefty, and will begin to see his strike zone shrink on the outside part of the plate — to the point where pitchers are getting the raw end of the deal.
The result? First, Carpenter takes more walks and posts an OBP over .390 for the first time since 2013. Second, as he learns to lay off more and more borderline pitches outside, he’ll see more pitches inside, and he’ll crush them just like he did last season (graphic courtesy of Brooks Baseball):
At the end of it all, you have a Matt Carpenter who crushes 35 home runs and walks 100 times in the same season, and that is MVP material.
Next: How bad is first base really?