Overrated. Not really that good. Overhyped. Can’t play defense. Better off traded. Those are all things that have been said of St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter. Honestly, I’ve even been guilty of uttering some of those words. But the truth is, they’re all wrong.
Carpenter might be the most underrated star in the game. That’s right, I said it. Matt Carpenter is better than most fans give him credit for. Say what you will about him, but in a game where stats tell the story, these stats don’t lie.
Matt Carpenter is a career .274 hitter since debuting in 2011. He finished 6th overall in Rookie of the Year voting in 2012. He is a three time All-Star who led the NL in doubles twice, including 2013 when he also led all major leaguers in runs(126), hits(199), and doubles(55) en route to his first Silver Slugger Award.
Those stats are impressive enough, but that’s not all. Carpenter has been an MVP finalist three times, earning top ten honors twice. He also ranks 11th and 17th among active players in OBP (.377) and Adjusted OPS+ (130) per Baseball-Reference. To steal a line from another St. Louis icon, “He really is good guys! And gals!”
Yeah, yeah. I hear what you’re saying. “But he cant play defense!” You’re wrong about that too. Is Carpenter a Gold Glove caliber defender? No he is not. I’ll give you that. Let me ask you though, how many other players are as good offensively as Carpenter is while being as defensively versatile? Marwin Gonzalez is the only name I can come up with and he’s not even close to being as good offensively.
We have to keep in mind the fact that Matt Carpenter was drafted as a third baseman but has been asked to play second, first, and the outfield in his career. He’s never really had a home defensively. While he may not have a strong arm, he was third in the league in defensive runs saved (6) among third basemen, ahead of Nolan Arenado. And he was a part time third baseman last year.
Carpenter finally has an everyday position. It’s a luxury he has never really had in his career up to this point. I, for one, am impressed with what he has been able to accomplish so far while being asked to do so much. The point is that Carpenter is a solid defender that will make more than his fair share of errors, but he’s still better than you think he is.
I’ve been outspoken about Carpenter before. I was wrong. I can admit it too. The numbers don’t lie and right now the numbers are saying we are watching a very good player. I’m changing my tune on Carpenter. Maybe it’s time we all did.