The easy assumption when it comes to the Cardinals’ usage of the new DH is to utilize it to ease their outfield logjam. It makes sense, especially with top prospect Dylan Carlson expected to get an opportunity in the Majors this season. With Tyler O’Neill, Harison Bader and Dexter Fowler in place, that should be easy…
However as MLB.com’s Anne Rogers notes, Matt Carpenter could ultimately prove to be the ideal option for the role. As Rogers said:
The Cardinals could simply put Matt Carpenter at DH and Tommy Edman at third base. In his rookie season last year, Edman played the majority of his games at third base and did well when Carpenter dealt with injuries and an overall struggle at the plate. There would be no defensive drop-off to having Edman man third, and Carpenter is a proven hitter who could shine in a DH role.
It’s interesting that Rogers’ notes that he has success in the DH role, because he only has 37 career PA in the role and the results haven’t been all that impressive:
.226 (7-31), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R
He was better in 2019, hitting .286, though that was in just 8 PA so it’s not something we’d be willing to draw any conclusions on. That’s not to say that Carpenter isn’t an ideal candidate, especially with the ramifications the decision would have.
- Health Concerns – Carpenter has struggled with staying healthy at times, including appearing in 129 games in 2019, and at 34-years old it would make sense to limit the wear and tear on his body.
- Getting Edman in the Lineup – Edman is expected to fill a super utility role for the team, including seeing time in the outfield. However clearing 3B, where Edman saw most of his time in ’19 (55 appearances), would ensure his bat in the lineup (and the team could still move him around a bit when/where needed).
Edman’s flexibility should help the Cardinals rotate others into the DH role, when needed. When the team wants to give someone like Paul Goldschmidt or Dexter Fowler a day off, the ability to move Carpenter to 3B and Edman to another spot will help.
It’ll be a situation to monitor closely, especially given the depth of the outfield and if the team deems Carlson ready to contribute. The decision to use Carpenter in the role would have a bigger impact on Edman, ensuring regular AB, and the outfield mix as opposed to Carpenter himself.
Our biggest concern for Edman, in the original release of the Draft Guide, was his playing time. As we said at the time:
In 326 AB last season he hit .304 with 11 HR and 15 SB in the Majors, and combined with his Triple-A marks he had 58 extra base hits (29 doubles, 11 triples and 18 HR) and 24 SB. The power was new, and you have to wonder how big of a regression there will be (a question we need to ask about many players), but with a solid approach (8.3% SwStr% in the Majors, 8.1% at Triple-A) and some speed he’ll be a productive player regardless. If he’s starting things will look even better, but he’s an ideal bench option to stash.
Monitor the situation closely, but Edman’s stock appears to be on the rise.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports
Make sure to check out all of our Updated 2020 preseason rankings: