St. Louis Cardinals best/worst case 2016: Matt Carpenter
Matt Carpenter has shown flashes of MVP potential in his time with the St. Louis Cardinals. Is 2016 the year he puts it all together?
We saw Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot earlier this afternoon, where he had an infield single in a 1-2 performance. We’re likely to see him in other spots in the lineup this spring, namely 2nd, 3rd and 5th, in my opinion.
While I would love to see Carpenter’s run producing pontential utilized in a run-producing spot in the Cardinals lineup, I don’t see him anywhere other than leadoff when the real games roll around.
Part of that is how fantastic Carpenter truly is in the lead off spot. The tone that he sets for that Cardinal lineup when leading off is unmatched in baseball. With a healthy Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and hopefully Brandon Moss (knock on wood for all three), the Cardinals SHOULD see a nice uptick in offense this year.
The other part of the Carpenter-leadoff situation is that there really isn’t an ideal fit for the spot elsewhere on the Cardinals roster. Yes, Tommy Pham and Kolten Wong seem like decent candidates for the job. But, Wong would have to have a major improvement on his .321 OBP from a season ago, and Pham is susceptible to the strikeout, as he whiffed 41 times in 153 at-bats last year.
Sure, if one of those guys (or anybody else) proves capable of handling leadoff duties, see what Carpenter could do in extended opportunities in the middle of the order. He’s got the potential to be a .300, 25 HR, 90 RBI guy wherever he hits. But, if the Cardinals could get him comfortable in the middle of the order, we could see a really special season out of #13 in 2016.
Next: Carpenter puts together a complete 2016