In Praise Of Matt Carpenter

That was a fun win for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Seven runs, 14 hits, 2 home runs — great night for the offense. Seven innings pitched allowing 1 run on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts from Lance Lynn to tie Adam Wainwright for second in the National League with his 8th win — great pitching night (yet again!) And all against the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks to top it off.

MCarpThat outburst on offense came from the usual contributors. Yadier Molina was 2 for 4 with one of those homers and an RBI single to raise his batting average to an NL-leading .350. Carlos Beltran was 3 for 5 with a 2-run homer and an RBI single. Allen Craig was 2 for 4 with an RBI single. David Freese was 2 for 3 and has upped his average to .265. Even Lynn had a hit.

Oh, and Matt Carpenter.

He did what he has been doing like crazy all season — he was 3 for 5 leading off and scored 3 runs. He now has a 12-game hitting streak and increased his batting average to .319. And those aren’t the only good numbers he has.

In his 35 games leading off, he’s hitting .336 with 47 hits and 21 walks. As Tom Timmermann wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Carpenter’s game last night, it was his 22nd multi-hit game of the season – his sixth 3-hit game – and the eighth time he’s had more than 1 hit in this 12-game streak. He has reached base three or more times in 18 of 57 games this season. He also hit his 18th double of the season Monday, putting him tied for the league lead.

Yet it seems like he’s mostly been overlooked until now.

I know we’re guilty here. Despite the fact he hit .352/.447/.467 in May with 9 doubles, 10 RBI and 18 walks in May, he never came to mind when Tara and I were deciding who our BAMF for the month should be. Yadi, obviously — he was our choice — and Allen Craig, Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica were ones we mentioned. It wasn’t until I heard the debate on Fox Sports Midwest during Saturday’s first game over their own choices for player of the month that I realized our omission (and went back and added Matt’s accomplishments into the post — yay, editing!)

Yet he’s starting to get a little bit of deserved attention now — and with the words “All Star” included. The Post-Dispatch article by Timmermann even leads off with that very thought:

The first results of the National League All-Star voting will come out today, and there’s a good chance that Matt Carpenter won’t be at the top of the list among second basemen.

Carpenter doesn’t have the name recognition that some of the other NL second baseman have, and that will certainly cost him when he’s along side name-brand players like Chase Utley and Brandon Phillips.

What he does have is numbers. Real good numbers.

Also this:

“He’s an All-Star in my book,” said third baseman David Freese, who has gone Carpenter one better with a 13-game hitting streak, his career high. “What’s he’s done for our lineup is huge. He’s on base all the time, he’s crossing the plate all the time. We expect a single up the middle every time he comes up.”

Derrick Goold also wrote about Matt in his Bird Land blog yesterday, Is Matt Carpenter the Cardinals MVP? And while your reaction to that question might be the same as mine — What? No, it’s Yadi — Goold does of course go into plenty of detail to support that point, which starts with this and goes into much more:

A potential All-Star at second base this season, Carpenter has not only radically enhanced the production the Cardinals get from the middle infield but also rescued them by taking over as the leadoff hitter. By one increasingly popular measure, Carpenter is not only the most productive second baseman in the league and one of the most productive leadoff hitters in the league, but also the most productive Cardinal.

The Fox Sports Midwest announcers also discussed the possibility of All Star Matt Carpenter during the game last night, with Dan McLaughlin even mentioning it to Matt himself during a post-game interview. His first question, though, was if Matt could have imagined himself a year ago as the starting second baseman and lead-off man.

Oh, yes, second base — the position Matt is playing for the first time in the big leagues and where he’s only made one error in 37 games and 298 1/3 innings.

So, Matt Carpenter deserves our praise. And our All-Star game votes at second base. Because we’d all rather see him than that loudmouth from Cincinnati …

With last night’s Cardinals win, they move to 19 games over .500 and maintain a 2 1/2 game lead over the Reds in the NL Central.

Tonight is Wacha Night, Part 2 — perhaps with a little less hype than Part 1 last Thursday (or perhaps not). He matches up against Tyler Skaggs, a lefty who’s being called up to make the start. Game time is 7:15 p.m.



Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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