St. Louis Cardinals: Will 2017 be the year for Matt Carpenter?

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals plan to move Matt Carpenter to first base for the upcoming season. He will most likely be shifting around occasionally if he needs to. Will 2017 be the year of Matt Carpenter?

Matt Carpenter, now 31 years old, has really been a good all around guy in his 6 years with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has been used as a guy who can play third base, second base, and first base. We have even seen him in the outfield very early on in his career as well.

He has been an absolute doubles machine, despite his doubles total going from forty-four in 2015 to thirty-six doubles in 2016. This downturn aside, he finished 4th in MVP voting in 2013 which was one season in which he hit greater than forty doubles.

The doubles factor could certainly be something that puts him back on track in 2017. Even with the lesser doubles count, he did make the All-Star team last season.

A look at his Career numbers in St.Louis:

Generated: 2/7/2017

One thing that could concern St. Louis Cardinals fans is that Carpenter’s hit totals have gone down every season since 2013. He did have an oblique injury last season and only played 129 games. He ended the season, on the other hand, with twenty-one home runs and sixty-eight runs batted in last year.

2017 will be a year of transition in two aspects for Matt Carpenter: he will move to everyday first base play and won’t be the leadoff hitter for the first time in around five years– Dexter Fowler will be the leadoff hitter for the team in the upcoming season. Carpenter will likely bat anywhere from 2-4 in Mike Matheny‘s lineup. This should help him more than it would hurt him in my estimate.

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According to ZiPS projections of 2017, Carpenter is projected to have 134 hits, thirty-four doubles, eighteen home runs, and sixty-seven runs batted in. His HR projection is listed as third on the team behind Randal Grichuk and Jedd Gyorko. His doubles and hits projections are second behind Stephen Piscotty (see Michael’s recent post for more Piscotty praise).

ZiPS also projects that Carpenter will have a slash line of .263/.366/.452, which would overall be substantially worse than in years past, as his SLG percentage was .505 in 2016. They project him to have a WAR of 3.0, second to Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty who are tied at 3.1.

Most of his ZiPS projections rank amongst the top 5 of the St. Louis Cardinals ball club. Stephen Piscotty is in the same ballpark of ranking very high in every offensive category with the Cardinals themselves.

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I fully expect Matt Carpenter to have, yet again, another All-Star-caliber season. He goes into the season fully healthy and ready to go. I think, although he hasn’t succeeded outside of the leadoff hole before, the more he bats in the middle or top of the order, the better he will be. He should be a pivotal part, in what we hope, is a successful year for the Redbirds.