Matt Carpenter

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Matthew Martin Carpenter

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Biographical Information[edit]

Matt Carpenter was a postseason hero in 2012.

Amateur Career[edit]

Carpenter helped his team to a USA Today national high school title in 2002. He hit .289/.391/.366 in 50 games as a part-timer during his freshman year at TCU. In 2006, the sophomore became a starter at third base and hit .349/.432/.411, with only one homer. He fielded .977. As a junior, he was 5 for 27 with 8 walks and a double before his season ended due to injury. He redshirted and returned in 2008 to bat .283/.381/.522 with 11 homers and 48 runs in 63 games; he was named second-team All-Mountain West Conference. As a fifth-year senior, he put up a batting line of .333/.470/.662 with 51 walks and 58 runs in 58 games. He tied for 15th in NCAA Division I in walks. He set a TCU single-season record with 23 doubles and finished second in TCU annals in hits (263) and doubles (57) and 4th in RBI (159).

2009-2010: Minors[edit]

He was drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 amateur draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. As a pro, he hit .283/.370/.390 in 70 games split between 3 teams (the Batavia Muckdogs, Palm Beach Cardinals and Quad Cities River Bandits) in 2009, then had a very good season in 2010, hitting .309/.418/.471 in 133 games between the Palm Beach Cardinals and Springfield Cardinals and putting him on the map as a prospect. He hit 31 doubles and 15 homers that season, scoring 93 runs while playing third base. He led the Cardinals farm system in hits (153, 9 ahead of another Matt, Matt Adams), runs (7 ahead of Daniel Descalso) and OBP (.003 better than Aaron Luna). He was named the Texas League All-Star DH (Mike Moustakas was picked at 3B) after finishing among the league leaders in average (.316, 4th, between Corey Brown and Paulo Orlando), walks (64, 4th, between Andy Parrino and Luna), OBP (.412, 3rd, after Luna and Brown), runs (76, 5th), fielding at 3B (.973, 1st), assists at 3B (222, 1st), chances at 3B (293, 1st) and games at 3B (104, 1st). He was named the Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year.

2011: Breaking in to The Show[edit]

In 2011, he was with the AAA Memphis Redbirds, hitting .300/.417/.463 in 130 games, with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 70 RBI. He went 1 for 15 (a double off Kerry Wood being the lone hit) in his first taste of the big leagues that year and was not on the postseason roster as the Cards went on to win the 2011 World Series. He led the 2011 Pacific Coast League with 84 walks (3 more than Cole Gillespie, 8th-most in the affiliated minors) and was 4th in OBP (between Collin Cowgill and Brandon Allen). In the St. Louis chain, he was 1st in OBP (28 points more than anyone else), doubles (3rd, behind Ryan Jackson and Nick Stavinoha), hits (130, 5th) and RBI (tied for 5th).

2012- : Majors[edit]

With David Freese emerging as the Cardinals' third baseman of the future thanks to an outstanding postseason in 2011, Carpenter was turned into more of a utility player before the 2012 season. He only played 6 games in the minors, spending the majority of his time with the big league squad, where he appeared in 114 games, hitting .294/.365/.463 with 22 doubles and 6 homers in 296 at-bats. He split his time between 1B, where he subbed ably for an injured Lance Berkman, 3B and the outfield, also playing a few games at second base. He had a hit in his only at-bat in the Wild Card Game against the Atlanta Braves, but was 0 for 4 as the Cards defeated the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. He was the hero of Game 3 of the 2012 NLCS on October 17, 2012. Playing for the St. Louis Cardinals against the San Francisco Giants, he replaced an injured Carlos Beltran in the 2nd inning and in his first at-bat of the game in the 3rd inning, he took Matt Cain deep for a two-run homer as the Cardinals won, 3-1. Carpenter had been 4 for 4 lifetime against Cain prior to the game.

Installed as the Cardinals' starting second baseman and leadoff hitter in 2013, Carpenter had an outstanding season, figuring among the National League leaders for hits and runs scored all year. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time and on September 4th tied a Cardinals team record held by Rogers Hornsby, Frankie Frisch and Sparky Adams with his 46th double of the season. Adams had been the last of the other three middle infielders to accomplish the feat, back in 1931, and there was almost a month of the season left for Matt to annihilate the mark. Indeed, he finished with 55 doubles, leading the NL (11 more than #2 Yadier Molina), as did his 199 hits (8 more than Daniel Murphy) and 126 runs scored (19 ahead of runner-up Shin-Soo Choo). He hit .318/.392/.481 in 157 games, driving in 78 runs from the lead-off spot. He was also 6th in the league in average (between Jayson Werth and Andrew McCutchen), 7th in OBP (between Freddie Freeman and Troy Tulowitzki), 3rd in total bases (301, behind Paul Goldschmidt and Hunter Pence), tied for 9th in walks (72, even with Adam LaRoche), third in extra-base hits (behind Goldschmidt and Jay Bruce), 8th in OPS+ (between Choo and Brandon Belt) and first in double plays turned at 2B (97). He won a Silver Slugger Award. He was shut down by the pitching of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Division Series, however, going 1 for 19 with his only hit a single. He was better in the next two rounds, hitting .261/.333/.435 with 4 runs and 2 RBI in the 2013 NLCS and .296/.286/.333 with 3 runs and 2 RBI in the World Series, which St. Louis dropped to Boston. He was 4th in voting for the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award behind McCutchen, Goldschmidt and teammate Yadier Molina.

During spring training of 2014, Carpenter signed a six-year contract extension with the Cardinals, with an option for a seventh, for $52 million. That made him the fourth member of the team signed for the long term, with P Adam Wainwright, OFs Matt Holliday and Allen Craig and C Molina. He played 158 games that season, leading the National League with 709 plate appearances and 95 walks. He hit .272 with a .375 OBP, scored 99 runs, hit 33 doubles and 8 homers and drove in 59 runs. He hit .375 in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with 3 homers and 7 RBI, then hit .200 with another homer as the Cardinals were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.

He started the 2015 season red hot, as after 27 games, he was hitting .333 with a NL-leading 14 doubles, 5 homers, 23 runs scored and 20 RBIs. The Cardinals had the best record in the majors at that point, so it came as a surprise when he had to take some time off in early May with what the Cardinals medical staff termed as "extreme fatigue", characterized by light-headedness, dehydration, an accelerated heart rate and difficulty with sleep. He did not miss much time, as he played 154 games that season, as the Cards kept their baseball-best record to the end. He hit .272 again, scored 101 runs, led the NL with 44 doubles and added 28 homers and 84 RBIs in what was another tremendous all-around season. In the Division Series, he hit .235 with a homer and 3 runs scored as the Cards were upset by the Chicago Cubs in four games. In 2016, he was back starting at third base at the beginning of the season. He was hitting .281 with 39 runs scored in 54 games on June 6th when the Cards shuffled their infield in order to accommodate Jhonny Peralta, coming back from a torn ligament in his thumb. Peralta's replacement at SS, Aledmys Diaz, was playing extremely well, so the Cardinals decided to place Peralta at third base, with Carpenter heading back to second base, and 2B Kolten Wong being sent down to the minors. While he was now playing second base, he was named to his third All-Star team as a third baseman. He had to miss the game, however, as he was placed on the disabled list on July 7th with a strained oblique muscle. He was replaced as the sole Cardinals representative on the All-Star roster by rookie teammate Diaz. In 129 games, he hit .271 with 36 doubles and 21 homers, scoring 81 runs, with almost equal time at third, first and second base.

On April 27, 2017, he hit his first career grand slam in memorable circumstances, as it was a walk-off homer off J.P. Howell which provided the Cards an 8-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th inning. he had become the team's starting first baseman that season.

On June 26, 2018, he was 5 for 5 with 5 runs, the second Cardinal ever to do so; Stan Musial had done it in 1948. On July 20th, he hit three home runs and two doubles from the lead-off slot in an 18-5 win over the Cubs. He drove in 7 runs and scored 4. He was just the second player in history to obtain that combination of extra-base hits in a game, after Kris Bryant, and the first leadoff hitter with 16 total bases. The 16 bases also tied the team record set when Mark Whiten had a four-homer game in 1993. All his damage was done in the first six innings, after which he sat down and rested, and he also led off the game with a homer for the 21st time of his career, tying Lou Brock's team mark. The following day, July 21st, he homered in both ends of a doubleheader to make it six straight games with a long ball, tying a franchise record previously set by Mark McGwire. The year had started very poorly for him, as he was hitting just .140 after 140 plate appearances in mid-May, but had been on fire since. He was named the National League Player of the Month for July on the strength of a .333 average and 11 homers, and he was also the Player of the Week in the NL for the first week of August. He tied a major league record on August 26th when he recorded 4 doubles in a 12-3 win over the Colorado Rockies; one had to go back to 1937 and Joe Medwick to find another Cards player with that many two-base hits in a game.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (2013, 2014 & 2016)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2013/2B)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (2013)
  • NL Hits Leader (2013)
  • 2-time NL Doubles Leader (2013 & 2015)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (2014)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2015-2018)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2018)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (2013, 2015 & 2018)

Records Held[edit]

  • Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, August 26, 2018

Further Reading[edit]

  • Richard Justice: "Carpenter's incredible surge? MVP worthy",, August 15, 2018. [1]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Carp in rare company with 3 HRs, 2 2Bs: Cards 1B makes history with 7-RBI game, ties franchise record for most leadoff homers",, July 20, 2018. [2]
  • Joe Posnanski: "Always an unlikely star, is Carp MVP material? Cardinals veteran has slugged his way into the national spotlight",, August 6, 2018. [3]

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