St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter is undervalued and underappreciated. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
Matt Carpenter seems to get a lot of hate from some St. Louis Cardinals fans -he doesn’t hit for a high average, he plays terrible defense, he strikes out too much, blah blah blah. Matt Carpenter is a great player and the numbers back it up.
Carp’s career triple slash is .277/.377/.460, which equals an .838 OPS. He became an everyday player in 2013. His OPS of .841 during that time frame ranks 27th in all of baseball. He ranks ahead of names like Manny Machado, Jose Altuve (the 2017 AL MVP), Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Buster Posey, and Jose Bautista. There are many other “big” names too.
His on-base percentage since 2013 is .379, ninth in baseball. His 22.2 fWAR ranks 14th. Anthony Rizzo has 22.1 while playing in about 30 more games. Yes, I said Anthony Rizzo. Who would’ve thought that?!
Furthermore, Matt Carpenter is actually a lot better defensively than people think. I was guilty of believing that he was awful in the field. But, after looking into the numbers I have changed my tune a bit.
Let me preface this by saying he is absolutely terrible defensively at second and third base. However, he ranked 10th in Major League Baseball in 2017 in defensive runs saved (DRS) at first base. He had one DRS, which actually ranked higher than the AL Gold Glove winner, Eric Hosmer, who had minus seven.
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He was actually above average at first base last season. However, his DRS numbers at any other position he has played are in the negative. So, that has kind of killed his value and possibly led to him being so underappreciated.
Carp only hit .241 in 2017. I get it. But, he had a .384 OBP%, which was 17th in baseball and seventh among first basemen.
People that still think batting average is the most important offensive statistic are way behind the times.
A player that gets on base a lot and hits for power is more valuable than a player who hits for a high average, but doesn’t get on base or hit for power.
Take this example:
Player A: .308/.341/.375 = .716 OPS.
Player B: .241/.384/.451 = .838 OPS.
Player A is Dee Gordon. He may hit for a high average, greatly helped by his speed. But, he rarely walks. Furthermore, 85% of his hits last season were singles. If someone is on base, they move up one spot with one of his hits, maybe two.
Player B, which I’m sure you guessed already, is Matt Carpenter. He hit 67 points lower than Gordon but got on base a lot more and hit for way more power. Only 53% of his hits were singles, therefore when he puts the ball in play he is going to do more damage. Doubles, triples, and home runs obviously move guys around the bases more than singles. I know which type of player I would rather have…
As I pointed out above, Matt Carpenter was actually not that bad defensively at first base last year for the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak have hinted that he will be used as a super-utility player. His defensive limitations at any other position lead people to believe that he is really not as good of a player as he actually is.
I think management needs to let him play first base everyday. Take advantage of his best position. He will continue to hit. Maybe he’ll finally get the love he deserves. What do you guys think? Is Matt Carpenter underrated or overrated? Let me know. Thanks for reading.