St. Louis Cardinals: Putting together the 2018 lineup

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 16: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by manager Mike Matheny #22 after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field on September 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 16: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by manager Mike Matheny #22 after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field on September 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
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Carpenter’s elite vision makes him a suitable lead off

The fact there is even a question as to who will lead off in 2018 is mind-boggling to me. Sure, he had a down year, and has become less of a traditional, contact lead off hitter in favor of higher power numbers. However, there is still no question Matt Carpenter still has some of the best plate discipline on the team, as demonstrated by his high OBP in comparison to his AVG.

Carpenter lead the MLB with 199 hits in 2013 and 95 walks in 2014, both key factors to building a traditional contact lead off hitter. While he is not quite the same player he was then, he is still the most suited to be the leadoff.

2017: .241/.384/.451, 23 home runs, 69 RBI’s in 622 PA’s

2017 as #1 hitter: .268/.418/.497, 14 home runs, 42 RBI’s in 389 PA’s

Career as #1 hitter: .291/.391/.487, 73 home runs, 285 RBI’s in 2594 PA’s

Carpenter has spent a majority of his career and a solid portion of last season in the leadoff role and did better than average both in 2017 and overall in his career. While his style has become more of a mid-lineup player in his pursuit of power over contact in recent years, but he still maintained the second highest on-base percentage.

While there could be an argument for the player with the top on base percentage, who will be discussed next, as being at the top of the lineup, Carpenter drew 109 walks in 2017, 38 more than the next player on the team, demonstrating vision and discipline that is significantly better than the rest of the team. There is no player with a combination of elite contact ability and vision on this team that is worth taking Carpenter out of this spot for.

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