St. Louis Cardinals: Comparing Our Infield vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates Infield
First Base: Matt Carpenter or Josh Bell
As I mentioned at the beginning, both teams are turning to new first basemen to start the 2017 campaign. The Pirates will roll out the young and athletic Josh Bell, while the Cardinals counter with their seasoned veteran, Matt Carpenter.
If you are the Pittsburgh Pirates, there is much to be excited about when it comes to Josh Bell. He is a young prospect that saw some action last year late in the 2016 season. In the forty-five games he played in, Bell hit .273 with three HR and nineteen RBI.
While those numbers do not scream superstar just yet, let’s compare them to incumbent first baseman for the Pirates, John Jaso. In 132 games in 2016, his .268 with eight HR and forty-two RBI. Josh Bell’s full season would have looked like this : .273 BA, 11 HR, 68 RBI.
It’s clear the Pirates have a viable option at first base in Bell. Remember that he is young and inexperienced. So while I don’t expect everything to go as smoothly as the projections say, it’s time for the Pirates to move on from Jaso.
The St. Louis Cardinals, however, have decided to move their best player across the diamond to man first base. Matt Carpenter has been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters over the last five years. He is easily the Cardinals best hitter and looks to continue that trend in 2017.
While Carpenter played the fewest games since his rookie season, he was able to put another solid year at the plate while being moved around the infield. He batted .272 with twenty-one HR and 68 RBI. Although his injuries cut short his offensive production, a healthy Matt Carpenter is a must need for the Cardinals.
Over the last five years, Carpenter has hit seventy-four HR and drove in 335 runs. His production at the plate cannot be underestimated and if the Cardinals want to be contenders, they need him to be at his best.
Even though he has not logged many innings at first base for the Cardinals, I would gladly take him over either Pirates first basemen.