St. Louis Cardinals: Is third base the offensive savior?


2015 ended with the St. Louis Cardinals posting a 100-win season despite a lackluster offense, but was it all lackluster?  Cardinal third basemen combined to post above-average offensive numbers last year.  How about in 2016?

I am very excited to spend the following articles examining the St. Louis Cardinals position by position in comparison fashion in an effort to find trends.  What is at stake is whether or not the 2015 Cardinals were a reality, an anomaly, on par with everyone else, better than everyone else, or worse than everyone else.

As a reminder, this article series will examine the 2015 offensive statistics in comparison to the MLB average one position at a time.  Also, each post will examine the aggregate statistics of each position as projected for 2016 to look for increases or decreases in light of concern or celebration.

Next up: third base.

The following was the MLB overall offensive statistics:


Now let’s look at the MLB average for third base:


Now let’s look at the Cardinals 2015 team average for players appearing at third base:


Okay, so let’s dig into this a little… What jumps out to you?  To me, I immediately noticed that in 2015 the Cardinals third basemen provided a huge impact for any positive offensive results witnessed by fans and by the team.  And, by the way, these third base stats are all attributed to one player: Matt Carpenter.

This all comes with relief after having examined the other positions in which the Cardinals posted sub-par numbers.  And let’s all be honest here, Matt Carpenter is one heck of a player.  Agreed?  Just look at the stats above and see how he single-handedly out-performed the other numerous players appearing at third across the majors.

Let’s look and compare.  Carpenter alone accounted for an increase over the MLB average of 3.1 home runs, 5 additional percentage points in relation to walk percent, a better ISO, better BABIP, better batting average, better OBP, better SLG, and better WAR.  Again, all embodied in one player!

Notice that I haven’t devoted a great deal of space to the fact that Carpenter fell behind the average on RBI and stolen base counts.  Allow me to insert this statement here to suffice for that space: these numbers do not surprise me with Carpenter in the leadoff spot.  Enough of that for now, let’s just rejoice in Carpenter’s adroit approach to baseball!

More from St Louis Cardinals News

Now that we have taken a moment to celebrate the awesomeness that is Matt Carpenter let’s turn to projections…

MLB third base Steamer projections:


Now, how about Steamer projections for the 2016 Cardinals:


Before moving on, let me share that the steamer projections for the Cardinals are again just for Matt Carpenter. Can we take a minute to bask in this glory? How amazing will 2016 be if Carpenter lives up to these projections?! Anyone else excited to see what happens now after “play ball” is called?

Let’s enjoy some of these projections directly. Just look! Carpenter is set to exceed the MLB projections by way of 5.5 additional home runs, 21.2 additional RBI, 1.6 additional stolen bases (I wonder if steamer assumes a potential different slot in the lineup), a better batting average, better OBP, better SLG, better OPS, and a better WAR by 2.3 wins!

Steamer does project for Carpenter to strikeout far worse than the average, on the downside.  It is likely safe to say that Cardinal fans are (1) not surprised by this, (2) feel that Carpenter is perhaps targeted by some umpires (just see Derrick Goold’s article written about Carpenter’s k-zone beef), and (3) will take this “down” stat in light of all the “up” stats.

Based on the projections, I feel that fans will LOVE the 2016 third base production and- adding to the excitement- a touch of promise exists in likely backups to Carpenter: Jedd Gyorko and even other like Aledmys Diaz and Jacob Wilson. Interested in reading more about these three players?  Just do a quick search here at Redbird Rants to find numerous other articles written by our amazing staff praising the future that lies ahead!

Next: St. Louis Cardinals: Is shortstop offense good enough?

I am very excited about this series and hope that you will follow along as I examine each position on the Cardinals when comparing 2015 stats against the stats of the rest of the league as well as looking at each positions projections. Follow me on Twitter and let’s discuss each position as we progress through spring training and beyond!