Consistency has been the name of the game for Matt Carpenter, who recorded a batting average above the .270 mark for the third consecutive season. While this has become expected from the 30-year-old, he drastically improved his patience at the plate. As a result, he finished the season with a .380 on-base percentage and was regularly the club's leadoff hitter. Naturally, the switch to hitting first came with a drop in RBI as he knocked in just 68 runs, nearly 20 fewer than he did in 2015, but he could move back down in the order following the addition of Dexter Fowler. He'll be highly valuable no matter where he hits in the order. It's worth noting that Carpenter dealt with an oblique injury that landed him on the disabled list for nearly a month in the second half of the season, but if he can stay healthy, Carpenter should have no problem reaching 20 home runs for the third straight year.
Carpenter went 2-for-3 with four RBI from a sacrifice fly, RBI single and two-run triple in Wednesday's 6-1 Grapefruit League win over the Nationals. Carpenter looks fully recovered from the back woes that plagued him last week, and is enjoying his spot in the middle of the order after hitting leadoff in the past. The Cardinals' starting first baseman is now hitting .333 (5-for-15) with a triple, home run, seven RBI, two walks and a run over nine spring games.
Carpenter (back) is 1-for-4 in the two games he's played since returning to the lineup after missing Thursday's contest. The Cardinals' starting first baseman's back appears to be back at full health after he was able to play both Friday and Saturday. Carpenter should be considered a full go moving forward and is now slashing .273/.333/.545 over 11 spring at-bats.
Carpenter (back) isn't in the Cardinals' lineup Thursday but is expected to return Friday, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. We'll confirm whether he's on Friday's card, but it's a positive sign that St. Louis plans on putting him in, considering Carpenter has maintained his readiness for at least a week. As long as Carpenter shows somewhat normal abilities at the dish, fantasy players should feel comfortable drafting the multi-positional gem at his market price, which comes in at an Average Draft Position of 71.70 in NFBC leagues (15-team mixed).
Carpenter (back) says he will hit in a batting cage Monday to re-evaluate his injury, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Carpenter has already returned to spring game action for defensive purposes, but has not yet been cleared to swing a bat. The veteran infielder says he's trying not to rush the process and remains adamant he'll be ready to go by Opening Day. "I don't feel the need to rush it," he said. "The only time I feel it is swinging, and even then I think I'm pretty close." Carpenter is expected to begin the 2017 season as the Cardinals' primary first baseman.
Carpenter (back) played five innings at first base in Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros, MLB.com reports. He has not yet been cleared to swing a bat but Carpenter wanted to get some time at first base, his new everyday position. The box score will show Carpenter recorded a single in the game, but it was a bunt single to beat the shift -- the Astros shifted their defensive alignment when Carpenter came up, seemingly unaware of his restrictions. Carpenter plans to begin taking swings in the batting cage Monday.