After a 2012 that saw Carpenter bat .294 over 114 games, Cardinals fans were left wondering what he could accomplish with a starting dose of at-bats. In the offseason, the Cardinals parted ways with fan favorite Skip Schumaker, and Matt Carpenter was given the chance to make the switch from third to second base over spring training. Carp was able to do enough with the glove to warrant a starting position and more than enough with the bat to make fans forget about Skip Schumaker.
It’s hard to see Matt Carpenter taking the MVP with star power like Andrew McCutcheon, Joey Votto, and Clayton Kershaw leading the way, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it. Don’t get me wrong, those guys have the stats too, but here’s five reasons Matt Carpenter has a shot to win the National League Most Valuable Player.
He can score runs
Carpenter is leading the Majors in runs scored at 119. That’s 11 up on Mike Trout in second with 108, and 10 behind Trout’s league lead from 2012. He’s projected for 127. Which should be more than enough to lead the league. His ability to score has been a huge asset for the Cardinals this season. Which brings me to our next point.
He’s been a hell of a lead off hitter
Since Carpenter took over the leadoff spot, which my extensive* research shows was April 24th against the Nationals, the Cardinals have gone 76-55. That’s 21 games over .500, thanks in no small part to Carpenter’s ability to get on base. He’s got the 10th best OBP in the league, but that doesn’t take into account that he’s led innings off with doubles 17 times and hit 36 doubles with none on. Speaking of doubles.
He’s got great gap power
He may not hit the homeruns, but he’s proven to be great at getting himself into scoring position for the big bats. Carpenter is leading the league in doubles, tied with Manny Machado at 51. Which is well more than enough for him to pass Rogers Hornsby for the most doubles in a season by a Cardinals second baseman, and puts him on a good pace to pass Joe Medwick’s 56 doubles in 1937 for 2nd all time with the Cardinals. Though he’s unlikely to catch Medwick’s 64 doubles from the 1936 season. So he may not have the flashy homerun and RBI numbers, but he’s been no slouch when it counts.
His numbers are crazy good with runners on
The Cardinals success with runners in scoring position has been well documented. As a matter of fact they’re blowing away the rest of the league in the stat. Carpenter himself is batting .412 with runners on and .415 with runners in scoring position. With men on and 2 outs he’s batting .424. The real crazy stat, however, is that he’s batting .778 with the bases loaded. We haven’t seen numbers that good since So Taguchi.
He’s been consistent
Carpenter’s longest streak of missing games this season has been 1. Pretty good numbers for a guy that’s known for going hard on every play and paying the toll with his body. His health and consistency are they key in why he’s passed Yadi and Craig on his own team in the MVP standings.
Those are just a few of the reasons Carpenter deserves consideration for the 2013 MVP, and I didn’t even get into his 6.5 WAR or his .324 average. Good for 4th in the Bigs.