St. Louis Cardinals best/worst case 2016: Matt Carpenter
My Prediction: The most complete season from Carpenter yet, an All-Star appearance, well-deserved national recognition
Matt Carpenter really flies under the radar when it comes to national recognition. Because he isn’t a “look at me” kind of guy, because he doesn’t do anything particularly flashy, he isn’t an intriguing topic for national media outlets to cover.
That is exactly what makes me love Matt Carpenter as a baseball player. He epitomizes what it means to be a gamer, and he just does things the absolute right way, each and every day. While some of the league’s big name superstars seem more interested in promoting themselves and their individual performance, Matt Carpenter is all-in on the success of the St. Louis Cardinals.
There is no way of stating how much he means to the Cardinals ball club. He drove the bus for that Cardinals offense a season ago, and he threw the entire unit on his back in August and September.
With some of that load taken off of his shoulders with the return of Matt Holliday as well as potential bounce back campaigns from Matt Adams and Brandon Moss, I like Carpenter to have a big, big year with the Cardinals in 2016.
I’m not sure he hits 28 home runs again, but I think that 20 is a realistic expectation, especially out of the lead off spot. If Holliday, Adams, Moss and others produce behind him, he won’t have to concern himself with trying to hit home runs or finding a way to produce offense for a lackluster unit.
I look for Carpenter to reign things back in a bit this year. In turn I see a spike in his batting average and on base percentage. I’m looking for a batting average around .290 and an OBP anywhere from .370-.390.
I think that we will see Matheny and the Cardinals experiment with Carpenter in the middle of the order at times early this year. But, ultimately, Carpenter is a leadoff hitter. He swings the bat the best in that spot, he’s the most comfortable there, and he gives you a pretty imposing figure to start off ballgames, when you consider how he can work a 10-pitch walk just as easily as he can shoot a 400 foot home run to center field.
My 2016 stat line for Carpenter is as follows: .292/.384/.478 with 21 home runs, 77 RBI, 102 runs scored, and 40 doubles.
Next: St. Louis Cardinals best/worst case: Jaime Garcia
I like Carpenter to make his third All Star Game appearance, and I think that a top-five MVP finish is a real possibility, depending on what happens around the rest of the National League.