by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is quickly becoming one of the most asked about players. It makes sense, considering the expectations entering the season compared to the miserable numbers he’s produced:
.174 (12-69), 2 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 0 SB
After giving him a pass in 2017 due to injuries, has the time come to finally lose hope? Obviously the story is different if we are talking about an OBP format (.322 OBP), but even then there are questions. Let’s dive in and take a look:
Batting Average/On Base Percentage
The struggles have been two-fold:
In regard to his luck, Carpenter is currently carrying a .213 BABIP despite a 25.0% line drive rate (and 34.7% Hard%). There is no question that he should improve in that regard, and it shouldn’t take long which alone will help.
His strikeouts have also jumped to 25.3%, despite walking at an elite rate (18.4%) and staying within the strike zone (20.1% O-Swing%). So why is his SwStr% up to 10.6% (5.7% for his career)? It’s been a surprising struggle with breaking balls (7.81% Whiff% to 24.32%) and to an extent offspeed pitches (11.17% to 16.98%). His bat hasn’t slowed and maybe he’s just pressing, so again we’d expect an improvement.
Carpenter may never be a .300 hitter, but he should at least push .250 and considering the walks he’ll ultimately carry an elite OBP as well.
There’s nothing wrong with his 10.5% HR/FB, and while his fly ball rate has dropped it’s not far off from is 2015 and 2016 levels:
- 2015 – 41.7%
- 2016 – 43.2%
- 2017 – 50.8%
- 2018 – 39.6%
He hit 28 HR in ’15 and 21 HR in ’16, courtesy of HR/FB of 15.8% and 13.3%, so there’s no reason for concern here. As long as he stays healthy he should push 25 HR once again.
Obviously he’s been disappointing, but now is not the time to pull the plug. Considering the defensive versatility he provides (if you play in a league that requires 5 games played he has eligibility at 1B, 2B and 3B) he becomes that much more valuable. Things are at the bottom right now, and for a player with obvious upside that’s the worst time to consider moving on.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.