St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter deserves a red jacket

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 18: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after scoring a run in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 18, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 18: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after scoring a run in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 18, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Former St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter warrants enshrinement in the team’s Hall of Fame after his career concludes.

Infielder Matt Carpenter‘s time with the St. Louis Cardinals officially ended on Thursday, Nov. 4, when the team declined his option. It was a bitter end to a very solid career with the Cardinals, the only team Carpenter has ever known, but his accomplishments should give him a spot in the Cardinals Hall of Fame after he calls it quits.

Carpenter served as the leadoff hitter and catalyst for the Cardinals for most of the 2010s, and he was excellent in the role. Although he was never as fast as the traditional leadoff hitter, he was adept at getting on base. His best season was in 2013, where he hit .318 and won the Silver Slugger award for second basemen. Carpenter also finished in the top 10 in National League MVP voting twice.

Carpenter’s case for the Cardinals Hall of Fame is a strong one. His career Baseball-Reference WAR is 26.8. That’s higher than Cardinals Hall of Famers Pepper Martin and Tom Herr, both of whom played the same positions as Carpenter. If we go by the players’ top seasons, Carpenter’s 2013 season was better than any season of Martin’s, Herr’s and also Bill White‘s, another Cardinals Hall of Famer.

Carpenter has the career stats to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, but many fans will look beyond the numbers when voting for the inductees. Carpenter wasn’t as widely admired as Adam Wainwright or Yadier Molina throughout his career, but his incredible run in 2018 coupled with the salsa craze cemented his legacy to the team and its fans.

Carpenter was also unselfish to the team. He played first base, second base and third base in different years and was willing to learn the intricacies of each position. He never won a Gold Glove award, but he was steady in the field. There’s something to be said about a player who voluntarily goes out of his comfort zone to help his team win.

In my view, the only thing holding Carpenter back from induction is his final few seasons. His struggles caused fans to sour on him, and those with a recency bias might pause before voting for him. However, I think the three-year waiting period after a player’s retirement will benefit Carpenter massively in the eyes of fans, as he is likely just now exiting his nadir within the fanbase.

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Drafted down in the 13th round in 2009, Carpenter was another success story for the Cardinals’ development team, and despite his lackluster final years, Carpenter has the numbers, the popularity and the personality to fit a snazzy red jacket when the time comes.