Matt Carpenter has become a punching bag for St. Louis Cardinals fans. His numbers – .069/.200/.372 in 29 at-bats – justify the fanbase’s frustration, but the underlying numbers paint a different picture.
Carpenter, quite frankly, has been unlucky. His average exit velocity ranks in the 96th percentile. His barrel percentage is among the best in the league. His chase rate is well above average. His spray chart, as uncovered by Katie Woo of The Athletic, shows that he is not hitting into the shift as much as most observers think.
Still, his statistics this season have not been good. There is no hiding that. Carpenter recently expressed his frustration with his slow start, vowing to get it fixed.
“Nobody is more disappointed with the way this is going than me. I have been off to a start that isn’t ideal. I’ve hit the ball hard, but at the end of the day, hits and production are what matters. We’re all frustrated. At the same time, it’s way too early to panic.”
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Carpenter is right. It would be one thing if his struggles came with poor contact and low barrel percentages. But his contact rates suggest that his luck will change at some point and that hits could start coming in bunches. It would be unfair, however, to expect production anywhere similar to 2018 where he hit .257/.374/.523 with 36 home runs and 81 RBI.
But Carpenter will be better than what his numbers are right now. He has earned the right for the organization to be patient with him. At some point, of course, they will need production to match those numbers.
Maybe it’s today. Maybe it’s tomorrow. But the Cardinals are confident that it will happen at some point in the near future.