Early into his eighth full seasons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, the team has agreed to an extension with infielder Matt Carpenter. The deal will take him through 2021 and it has a vesting option for 2022.
Carpenter is coming off of a career-high 36 home runs last season that also included a slash line of .257/.374/.523. While that average was below his career batting average of .273, he produced a much higher slugging percentage than his career slugging percentage of .469.
Over the past couple of years Carpenter has become exactly the offensive player for what baseball has become and that is a guy that tries to hit pitches with more trajectory which has lead to more home runs while also leading to more strikeouts. While strikeouts are not good, Carpenter does hit a good amount of doubles and he does take a lot of walks, which are two things that cancel out the negative impacts of his strikeouts from his usual leadoff spot in the lineup.
To add to Carpenter becoming more and more of what teams are looking for in baseball is his percentage of times pulling the ball compared to hitting the ball the other way. He was routinely in the mid-30% of times pulling the ball, but starting in 2016 he has been over 40% every season and so far this season he is up over 55%. This has also lead to more fly balls, which is where you see the correlation with more home runs.
Defensively is where Carpenter is not nearly as valuable to the Cardinals. Throughout his career he only has one position where he’s not responsible for negative defensive runs saved and that is first base, where he is only responsible for one defensive run saved and that’s for his whole career.
His defensive WAR is also negative for every season of his career with the exception being 2013 where it was 0.4 and 2014 where it was 0.0.
With that being said, Carpenter has been very valuable on offense for the Cardinals, especially since he took over the leadoff role and he is a three-time All-Star and he has won a Silver Slugger
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