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Matt Carpenter for MVP: Now it’s Getting Serious


Several months I wrote this article arguing that Matt Carpenter could win the MVP. In the article I pointed out how it wasn’t such a wild idea; how he had the numbers for the sabermetrics community along with being a professional workhorse who switched positions for the betterment of the team, which pleases the more traditionalist crowd. I finished the article with:

So all of this hopefully shows Carpenter’s name should be in the hat. With a consistent or even superior second half, he can be the first second baseman to win the MVP since Jeff Kent in 2000. And the first Cardinals second baseman to win it since Frankie Frisch in 1931.

Not bad for someone who was without a position last year.

While Carpenter didn’t necessarily have a “superior” second half, but he did have an equally exceptional second half.

Carpenter’s first half: .321/.394/.497

Carpenter’s second half: .328/.401/.480

Since then, talk has caught on. The Cardinals broadcasters mention almost every night there is an increasing chance he may win. There’s a Facebook group dedicated to him winning (full disclosure: due to my article I was asked to be an admin on the group).

There’s plenty of other articles dedicated to Carpenter winning. It’s been covered further on our site. Bernie Miklasz talked about it here.

The Bleacher Report on his MVP chances

The question of Matt Carpenter as a legitimate NL MVP candidate is not just fluff. This young man is the real deal.

He’s come through for the Cardinals with his bat, his glove and most of all, his grit.

Carpenter is a scrapper. He’s asked to learn second base and comes back as one of the game’s best active second baseman.

Rob Rains claiming he should be in the discussion

Carpenter’s .313 batting average after Sunday’s game ties him for sixth in the NL. He scored his league-leading 97th run on Sunday and his two hits increased his season total to 157, two ahead of Milwaukee’s Jean Segura for the most in the league. He also hit his league-high 43rd double and his total of 58 extra-base hits is tied with Goldschmidt and one behind league-leader Jay Bruce of the Reds.

Even beyond the regular statistics, Carpenter’s value to the Cardinals can be found in the success he has had as the team’s leadoff hitter, where his contribution can be measured in many different ways. The most important one is that when he hits and gets on base, the Cardinals have a much better chance of winning the game.

Rant Sports on the power of his hitting despite having to work over the offseason on switching positions

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter is quietly putting together an MVP-caliber year. He leads the NL in hits, doubles, and has the highest on-base percentage among lead-off hitters. He has 58 multi-hit games, the highest in baseball. 

Here, ESPN counts down the top 5 probable leaders for the NL MVP. They put Carpenter just outside the top 5, claiming

He’s been a huge unsung hero for the Cardinals, filling dual voids at second base and the leadoff spot. Carpenter is on track to become the first St. Louis hitter with 50 doubles in a season since Albert Pujols in 2004.

I do admit if I was a voter, I would have a hard time voting for him over McCutchen too, but Carpenter definitely has a strong case. Out of the top 5 on ESPN, here is his chance of beating all 5.

Andrew McCutchen – .319/.405/.510

Why Carpenter can beat him – As I said, McCutchen is going to be tough to beat. What may hold him back though is the same thing that may hurt Carpenter: neither excelled greatly at a traditional line. McCutchen only hit 20 homeruns. Didn’t hit the 100 RBI mark. Voters may see that and vote for another player who hit 30 homeruns or 100 RBIs.

Yadier Molina – .314/.355/.471

Why Carpenter can beat him – Along with having 150 more at bats, Carpenter simply had a better year.

Paul Goldschmidt – .304/.405/.556

Why Carpenter can beat him – Goldschmidt’s team won’t make the playoffs. Love or hate that unwritten rule, it’ll still deter some voters.

Freddie Freeman – .314/.392/.500

Why Carpenter can beat him – Freeman, like Carpenter, is a long shot. And when you get to long-shots, voters start to really study the stats more. And Carpenter has better stats.

Clayton Kershaw – 15-9 1.88 ERA

Why Carpenter can beat him – Pitchers can win the MVP, but they need to have exceptional numbers. Kershaw’s numbers are good enough to easily win the Cy Young. But don’t see him winning MVP.

The last second baseman to win the MVP was Dustin Pedroia in 2008. How do the numbers compare between Pedroia that year and Carpenter this year?

Carpenter has a higher batting average, higher on base percentage, higher OPS, more runs created, a higher WAR and will probably end the season with more RBIs while hitting leadoff behind the pitchers spot.

Things are getting serious in Carpenter’s MVP bid. And since the first article, my thought has changed from how Carpenter COULD win the MVP to how Carpenter SHOULD win the MVP.

Follow me on Twitter @pchibbard

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Video: Royals Harlem Shake

Some of the Kansas City Royals players, including Salvador Perez and Bruce Chen, have posted a “Harlem Shake” video.

From Wikipedia: The videos last between 30 and 32 seconds and feature an excerpt from the song “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer. Usually, a video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the dancing individual. When the bass drops, the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds. Moreover, in the second half of the video, people often wear a minimum of clothes or crazy outfits or costumes while wielding strange props.

It was only a matter of time.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Game Blog

Welcome back to the annual Progressive Game Blog.  For the last four years, the United Cardinal Bloggers have come together to tell the story of an entire game from multiple voices on multiple sites.


This year, not only will you find the voices of many members of the UCB, you will also find some of our friendly Mets bloggers describing the game from their own standpoint.  You can read all of the entries by following along through the main “index” post over at the official UCB Site.

I-70 Baseball will bring you the third inning of today’s game as will Mets Fans For Life.

The Cardinals come to the plate in the top of the third down by three runs as the Mets plated three in the bottom of the second (read about the second inning over at Cards N Stuff.  Young centerfielder Shane Robinson will look to get the Redbirds started in front of pitcher Lance Lynn and the top of the order.

A Texas League single to right put the lead off man on board but an all to familiar story unfolded with Lance Lynn at the plate.  On three consecutive pitches, Lynn was unable to push a bunt into fair territory, and the opportunity to move the runner up 90 feet passed the Cardinals by.  Unable to move the runner into scoring position or out of a force play situation proves once again to be fatal as lead off hitter Rafael Furcal grounds into an inning-ending double play.  Give Shane Robinson credit for a solid attempt to break up the double play as Daniel Murphy attempted to make the turn.

A quick aside as we wait for the bottom of the third inning to play out: I don’t think I have seen any other team in baseball represented as well on the road as the St. Louis Cardinals.  No matter what city they visit, there is almost always a strong representation of Cardinal red in the crowd.  Not to be out done in New York, there is a young lady sitting directly behind the plate sporting the familiar bright red cap adorned with the white STL logo.

What Lynn lacks in ability to drop a bunt, he more than makes up for on the mound.  After a rough second inning, he took the mound to face the middle of the Mets’ order, starting with cleanup hitter Lucas Duda.  After falling behind Duda, Lynn battled back to get him to fly out to left fielder Matt Holliday.  Daniel Murphy would follow with a fly ball towards the right-center field gap, but the defensive positioning was in place to make it a routine out for Carlos Beltran.  Young Mets first baseman Ike Davis would fall behind in the count early and yet work a walk out of Lynn.  After falling behind shortstop Omar Quintanilla, Lynn battles back for his second strikeout of the game and keeps the Mets from causing any more damage.

Working deep into counts is hurting Lynn early on in this game and his pitch count is climbing to out of control proportions as he closes the third with 71 pitches, 41 of which are strikes.  At this rate, the game will soon be in the hands of the Cardinals’ bullpen.  It feels strange to say that any game in the hands of this bullpen is a major concern at this point.  If the Cardinals hope to pull this one out, they will need to get some offense going and some efficient innings for their starter.

Head over to Rally Birds to check out the top of the fourth inning.  Thanks for stopping by our corner of the Cardinals web-o-sphere to check out or commentary.  Here’s hoping this game turns around quickly.

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Royals Hot Start Should Not Overshadow Future

The unexpectedly electrifying start the Royals got off to last weekend removed the focus temporarily from where it had been primarily trained for the last several months – the minor league system.

With gutty comebacks and dramatic walk offs, the big league Royals gave fans something to take their minds off the future. But for the last couple of seasons, the top pastime of Royals fans has been to follow the exploits of the clubs in Omaha, Northwest Arkansas and the teams of the far-flung lower levels.

It would be a good thing if the Royals could do well enough this season that the minor leaguers could just develop at their own pace, rather than have us dissecting their every move. And that seemed the case on Saturday when the team’s top minor league teams played an exhibition game at the K.

Before last Friday, I anticipated Saturday’s Royals game to be merely the appetizer before the real meal. I actually expected some fans to show up late, to skip the big league game in favor of the exhibition. But when Saturday came, there was enough of a buzz about the Royals that the exhibition seemed the afterthought.

Don’t get me wrong. The minors have not been forgotten.

I was shocked by the knowledge of the fans that remained in the crowd at 3:30 on Saturday. People sitting around me chatted about each player that stepped to the plate or that took the mound, as if they had followed his career for years.

“How far was that bomb by Hosmer down in Surpise?”

“I was surprised Osuna didn’t get promoted, weren’t you?”

“No, we didn’t draft Will Smith. He was part of the Callaspo trade.

But it just goes to show how starved Royals fans have been for something to put their hope in. And just how much attention this crop of minor leaguers has garnered.

The exhibition did more than just show off the talents of the youngsters. It also revealed some of the decisions the franchise has made about the development of the players. Here’s a look at the makeup of the Omaha and Northwest Arkansas rosters and the placement of key prospects:


Eric Hosmer – I had wondered if he might start the season at AA, but by spring that had been decided. One could argue he’s the best first baseman in the organization, so starting him at Northwest Arkansas for more seasoning wasn’t necessary. He didn’t do anything offensively in the exhibition, but his defense was spectacular.

Mike Moustakas – He’s starting at AAA, but might make the jump sooner than later. He looked good at the plate and in the field last Saturday.

Clint Robinson – Here’s the odd man out. Billy Butler seems entrenched, and with a big contract he won’t be easy to trade. The Royals aren’t about to do anything to short-circuit Hosmer’s progress. So that leaves Kila Ka’aihue with one year to prove he belongs in the big leagues, so he might fetch something in a trade. Robinson, on the other hand, would seem to have no window of opportunity. The best he can hope for is a trade to another organization. For his sake, he hope he gets a chance somewhere.

Lorenzo Cain – He was sent to AAA so that he could play everyday. It was sort of disappointing that Cain, one off the primaries in the Greinke trade, didn’t make the big club. He will need to distinguish himself soon, or the Royals may stand pat with Melky Cabrera in center. Cain is not young – he’s just days shy of 25. Centerfield is crowded and Cain needs to show he’s the team’s best longterm option.

Gregor Blanco – Nearly made the big league club. Then he cleared waivers, so he’ll start at AAA. He actually looked pretty good in the exhibition, even hitting an inside-the-park homer. The Royals will have trouble sorting out the situation with Blanco, Cain and Jerrod Dyson. They all look pretty similar – and pretty average – at this point in time.

Mike Montgomery – The pitchers dominated the exhibition, and Montgomery was head-and-shoulders above the rest. He didn’t surrender a hit over four innings and made some pretty good prospects look hapless. He could also make the jump if KC needs starting pitching (which it most certainly will).

Danny Duffy – Wasn’t as impressive as Montgomery, but about as effective. He could also conceivable be in KC before the season ends. The elevation of Aaron Crow to the Royals’ bullpen may have been precipitated by the emergence of other starters in the system. Crow had better get it done now, or he’ll be bypassed by these other youngsters.

Others to watch: Louis Coleman, Kevin Pucetas, Blake Wood, Johnny Giovatella, David Lough, Paulo Orlando

Northwest Arkansas:

Christian Colon – Though many suspect a move second base is inevitable, Colon started the exhibition at shortstop and was not impressive. He went 0-5, struck out twice, and committed a throwing error. He will likely spend the entire year at AA, and he has a lot to prove.

Will Myers – Started in right field but didn’t do anything to distinguish himself. If he hits like everyone seems to think he will, he could potentially move up to AAA during the season.

Derrick Robinson – Robinson has hit his ceiling. Centerfield is too crowded with speedy, but otherwise marginal, talents, and Robinson is the least of these. He may eventually play his way up to AAA, but he’s already 23.

John Lamb – Locked horns with Montgomery and wasn’t outmatched. The AAA hitters only mustered one run off him. He’s young. He won’t turn 21 until July, but he will probably get promoted at some point this season.

Chris Dwyer – His promotion to AAA probably depends on the movement that goes on above him. Otherwise he’ll try to improve on the 2-1 record and 3.06 ERA that he posted for the Naturals at the end of last season.

Others to watch: Will Smith, Jeff Bianchi

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