Matt Carpenter’s numbers rode a wild roller coaster in 2018. Will the St. Louis Cardinals’ 3rd baseman be able to be more consistent in 2019?
I am not sure that there has ever been a player on the St. Louis Cardinals who had so many people begging the Cardinals to trade/cut him that changed their minds so fast. Matt Carpenter had even me really hoping the Cardinals would get rid of him after the first month of the season. How mad we would have been…
In myself and other fans’ defense, the anger with Carpenter was understandable given his .155 batting average and .579 OPS at the end of March. If memory serves me correctly, there was a time where both Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler were the two worst hitters in the National League. That combined with a slow start from what was supposed to be our middle of the order anchor (Marcell Ozuna) and St. Louis was a very upset town.
But, as most things do, Carpenter turned his season around. Between May and August, Carpenter was the best hitter in the MLB. He led the league in homers for the majority of the second half up until the final month of the season and almost took the team to the playoffs all by himself.
Unfortunately, he was gone as quick as he came. The final month of the season, Carp disappeared again as he batted a slightly better .170 batting average but with a worse OPS (.558).
After being a front runner for MVP in August, I don’t know if his name was mentioned once at the end of the season. All-in-all, Carp’s numbers look pretty solid but don’t reflect the extremes sitting at .257/.374/.523 for an overall OPS of .897. He also set a career high with 36 homers.
Looking ahead to 2019, ZiPS projects a slight decline for Carpenter which makes sense as he is entering his age 33 season. A drop in power and overall WAR would be understandable as he declines but even still, he would easily be a top-3 hitter on this team with those numbers.
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It will no doubt be another year where fans complain that Carpenter is bad because of a low batting average but that .371 OBP is right on track with his career numbers. This allows Carp to keep being a great table setter at the top of the order where he is presumably going to bat again.
I might take the under on these numbers as Carp is definitely getting up there in age. Right around 33-34 is where the decline curve seems to steepen. Something else to consider though is that Carp didn’t become an everyday player till he was 26.
The other big change for 2019 is that with the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, Carp will be moving over to third base. Many have expressed worry about his throwing arm, I’m not personally worried about that as much as his glove and durability.
Now the strain of a season effects pitchers more in the way that I’m proposing than it does batters, but as a late bloomer, he may keep his prime longer. We will just have to see.
My Prediction: .248 BA, .370 OBP, .489 SLUG, 28 HR, 70 RBI, 3.8 WAR
While it is slightly frustrating that Carpenter seemingly can’t bat anywhere but lineup, his on base skills are things that don’t decline as steeply as strength, speed and other attributes do. As I’ve said for each of the other projections, Carp is going to be a very important player in 2019 especially with the postition change. The NL Central is gonna be a dogfight, all hands need to be on deck.