The St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman finished Friday night with three home runs,16 total bases, and seven RBIs. A historic night no doubt, but just a snapshot of his MVP-caliber season.
On May 15th, Matt Carpenter was hitting .140 and slugging .272 for the St. Louis Cardinals. After yesterday’s five hit performance, he’s hitting .274 and slugging .576. And if we follow recent MVP-voting patterns, he’s currently the MVP of the National League.
Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP in 2017 for the Miami Marlins. He finished the season with 7.6 bWAR, which led the league. The Marlins finished 20 games back in their division. Mike Trout won the AL MVP in 2016. He led all of baseball with 10.5 bWAR. The Angels finished 21 games back.
Guess what? Matt Carpenter is leading the National League in bWAR with 4.3. Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals are 7.5 games back in the division. But just look at the paragraph above for two very recent examples of players winning MVPs for teams that didn’t make the playoffs (hopefully the Cardinals do, which would make his case even stronger).
As of right now, he’s the most valuable player in the league. I know people either love or hate WAR. But it serves as the best way to compare a player’s overall value to other players due to the fact that it encompasses offense, defense, and baserunning.
If you don’t believe in WAR, here are some other stats:
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- He’s third in the NL with a 155 wRC+. This statistic is an all-encompassing measure of a player’s offensive value. From FanGraphs, “League average for position players is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than a league average hitter would have in the same number of plate appearances.” He’s 55% above league average.
- He’s third in the NL in slugging percentage and fourth in the league with a .958 OPS which is higher than Freddie Freeman and Javier Baez, two other names being thrown around as MVP candidates.
- He’s tied with Bryce Harper for the second most home runs in the league with 23, only two behind the league leaders.
- He leads the NL with eight DRS (defensive runs saved) at third base. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s fourth in the NL with three DRS at first base and has played 500-600 innings less than each of the men above him at the position.
Just a couple weeks ago, and even more recently, people on social media were saying that Carpenter is awful defensively and needs to be traded. Or he’s aging… trade him while you can. He’s not a true third baseman or first baseman. He needs to go the American League. Blah, blah, blah.
Yes, Carp has been bad defensively in the past. But people that still say that just don’t pay attention to the metrics. You can say all you want about it but numbers don’t lie. He’s been very, very good defensively at third and first base this year.
Not only has he been great defensively this year, he is the team’s best hitter. His OPS is over 100 points higher than Jose Martinez‘s. If you actually look at statistics, I don’t think anyone can argue that he’s the team’s best player. Do you want to trade that?
And these numbers aren’t driven by luck either. His BABIP is .309, which is actually below his career average. His hard hit percentage is 52.5%. That’s 10 points higher than any other year in his career. He’s simply barreling up more baseballs which is something he can control.
Through the middle of May, Matt Carpenter was just awful. A little over two months later, he’s the best player in the National League. Let’s hope it continues.
What do you guys think? Does Matt Carpenter deserve MVP recognition? Let me know. Thanks for reading.