Matt Carpenter was a top-45 real-life hitter last season as measured by wRC+ (123), but his .241 average kept him outside the top 100 among hitters in terms of earned value in traditional fantasy formats. He maintained a strikeout rate right around 20 percent while upping his walk rate to 17.5 percent, which was the fifth-best mark among qualified hitters. Opposing pitchers rarely fooled Carpenter -- his 16.6 O-Swing percentage was the second-lowest in baseball, trailing only Joey Votto -- and Carpenter routinely squared the ball up, posting the eighth-best hard-hit rate. However, he may have gotten a little too flyball happy (50.8 percent), and that combined with some tough luck on balls in play (.274 BABIP) hurt his overall numbers. Carpenter's performance against lefties did decline (.202/.343/.321), but it was a relatively small sample (109 at-bats). Expect a rebound, and it's possible Carpenter will regain eligibility at second base at some point.
Carpenter, who laced a two-run single, walked and scored in two plate appearances during Thursday's 8-2 Grapefruit League win over the Braves, adjusted his swing this offseason in an attempt to revert back to a prior level of efficiency, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports. "I'm not going to let myself hit .240 again," Carpenter said. "I look at my season as a huge disappointment. I wasn't happy about the kind of year I had at all." A commitment to putting the ball in the air more often beginning in 2015 led to a progressive increase in Carpenter's launch angle, which was up to 21 degrees by a 2017 campaign where his average dipped to its lowest figure (.241) since his initial seven-game majors cup of coffee in 2011. That number put him in the same class as sluggers like Mike Napoli and Joey Gallo, hitters whose style in the batter's box is the antithesis of what Carpenter's has been for the majority of his career. In all, Carpenter sacrificed a total of 77 points in his batting average from the career-high .318 he hit in 2013 with his revamped approach, and his offseason tweaks were done with the intention of returning to the potent all-fields hitter he used to be. The usual caveat about spring numbers aside, Carpenter's .500 average over 19 plate appearances serves as a cautiously optimistic endorsement of his old-is-new-again swing as the regular season approaches.
Carpenter will bat third and man third base in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Nationals, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports. A back issue delayed Carpenter's spring debut until last week, but the veteran hasn't missed a beat in his three Grapefruit League games to date, going 3-for-5 with a home run and two walks in those contests. The Cardinals had used him as a designated hitter or first baseman in all of those contests, so Carpenter's move to the hot corner Sunday offers another indication that the club isn't too concerned about his health. What's less clear is how frequently Carpenter will be deployed at third base once the season begins, as the 32-year-old battled an injury to his throwing shoulder for a good portion of 2017. In an attempt to limit the strain on the shoulder, Carpenter has been working to alter his throwing motion during camp, so how he performs defensively in the Cardinals' remaining spring games could determine his usage at the position in 2018.
Carpenter manned first base in Wednesday's 3-1 Grapefruit League win over the Astros and went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run. Carpenter made his in-the-field debut following a turn at designated hitter in his first Grapefruit League game Tuesday, but what he did at the plate was just as much of a story. The veteran infielder connected off starter Justin Verlander for a two-out, two-run shot in the third with Tommy Pham aboard, following a first-inning single. It's been an auspicious start to spring for Carpenter, who'd also walked and scored in both of his plate appearances Tuesday.
Carpenter (back) will make his Grapefruit League debut in the field Wednesday against the Astros, Joe Trezza of MLB.com. He'll play first base and bat third. Carpenter checked out fine while serving as the Cardinals' designated hitter in Tuesday's exhibition against the Marlins, drawing walks in both of his plate appearances on the day. The veteran's return to the infield suggests the Cardinals aren't too concerned about his health heading into Opening Day, but Carpenter will still need to pick up several at-bats over the next week to ensure he's ready to handle a full-time role when the season begins.
Carpenter (back) filled the designated hitter role in his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday, drawing two walks and scoring twice in a pair of plate appearances during an 11-4 win over the Marlins. He finally saw game action after dealing with a back issue since a mid-February weight lifting session brought about a sprain. Carpenter's exit after two at-bats was planned, according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com, as opposed to a sign of any setback. He's now slated to play first base on Wednesday versus the Astros. As far as his debut outing, Carpenter encouragingly took multiple swings and ran the bases without issue, leaving him highly satisfied with his long-awaited return to the field. "I felt great," Carpenter said of his brief return. "I saw the ball well. Now, it's just about building at-bats through the spring and I'll be ready to go."
|vs SYNDERGAARD (CAREER)||0/3||.000||0||0||0||0||1|