2019 Projection: Can Matt Carpenter Post Another MVP-Type Campaign?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is coming off an MVP type season.  Sure there were relatively high hopes, especially for those who play in OBP formats, but did anyone realistically expect these types of results:

564 At Bats
.257 Batting Average (145 Hits)
36 Home Runs
81 RBI
111 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.374 On Base Percentage
.523 Slugging Percentage
.291 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Now the question is if these types of numbers are repeatable, or if Carpenter is destined to take a step backwards.  Let’s break it down:

His average was still mediocre, despite a 49.0% Hard%.  It’s become clear in recent seasons that Carpenter has become fixated on increasing his power, as evidenced by the following numbers:

  • Fly Ball Rate – 46.9%
  • Pull Rate – 48.3%

Those two things make it nearly impossible for him, with little speed, to maintain an elevated BABIP.  That’s going to take out the opportunity to hit for a strong average, regardless of his solid approach.  While his 8.3% SwStr% and 21.0% O-Swing% will allow him to be far more valuable in OBP formats, considering his propensity to draw a walk (15.1% in 2018), it’s something that needs to be considered for those in other formats.

However if he can’t maintain the power his AVG and OBP will take at least a little hit.  It’s tough to buy into his 19.1% HR/FB, considering a career mark of 11.5%.  It was obviously a mid-season surge that bolstered the numbers, and while it lasted for three months these types of HR/FB seem have never been the norm:

  • June – 25.0%
  • July – 30.6%
  • August – 25.0%

It’s fair to expect him to fall back into the 23-26 HR range, though that would be enough to continue to hold value.  With his OBP and since he should continue to be slotted atop the order he’s going to score a lot of runs and also should drive in enough as well.

It all comes together for the following projection:

2019 Projection
.258 (142-550), 26 HR, 75 RBI, 95 R, 4 SB, .296 BABIP, .380 OBP, .475 SLG

Obviously those aren’t quite MVP numbers, but would anyone complain?  While he doesn’t chip in much speed, he holds value in all other categories and if you play in an OBP  format he brings elite production.  Sure he may not hit 30+ HR, but we wouldn’t have expected him to.  As long as you value him as you did prior to 2018, and not expecting him to replicate what he did, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Player
Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

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