Since replacing Jon Jay as the everyday leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter has done one thing better than just about every one else–get on base. In 138 plate appearances at the top spot, he has a .420 on-base percentage–the second highest OBP in the MLB (second to Cincinnati’s Shin Soo Choo).
The Cardinals are paying him a mere $504,000 this season. Based on his performance so far this season, the team is already getting a return on its investment. Carpenter is fully capable of playing 3infield positions–second base, third base, and first base. He can also fill in at one of the corner outfield spots if necessary. $504,000 for a player capable of playing up to 5 positions while getting on base 42% of the time is an incredible value for the Cardinals.
Somewhere, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) are out there smiling–admiring Matt Carpenter’s ability to get on base for a price that even the Oakland A’s can afford. Billy Beane always stressed the importance of on-base percentage and when pressed by scouts why he liked a given player, he would always reply, “because he gets on base.”
For those of you that have not read the book or seen the movie, I recommend you follow the links that I have provided. You will not be disappointed, and you will further appreciate what Matt Carpenter has done for the Cardinals so far this season (FYI: Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in the movie is Paul DePodesta in the book).
The Cardinals have the best record in baseball at 34-17. Matt Carpenter is the biggest reason why they have been able to get off to such a hot start. Sure, they have had vast injuries to the pitching rotation (as I have addressed in previous blog posts), but the Cardinals consistently resisted the urge to trade their young pitchers in the past so they would be able to handle the situation they are dealing with this season.
Thus, the starting pitching has been phenomenal this season, but the spark that Carpenter has provided in the leadoff spot has been something the Cardinals have been wanting for a long, long time. The Cardinals are second in the league in on-base percentage, third in runs batted in, and third in runs scored. This can be directly attributed to Carpenter’s ability to get on base in front of the big bats of Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Allen Craig.
If the MVP ballot was handed out today, voters would be foolish to not give Matt Carpenter legitimate consideration for the award. This team, and all the adversity it has gone through, would not be where it is today without the incredible performance by Carpenter so far.
He is doing all of this for just $504,000 this season–what a steal.
Thank you, Matt Carpenter.
Until next time…