by on May 17, 2012 · 2 comments

MARP = Matt Carpenter, because nicknames like “Mini Carp” and “Lil’ Carp” simply fail to do Matt justice.  Also, the very names themselves tend to diminish the less-established of the two players named Carpenter on the Cardinals.  Considering how little attention he has received to this point outside of Cardinal Nation, I doubt many people even recognize that he has put together a solid campaign for NL Rookie of the Year honors.  Time for that to change.

Despite playing on a team with the likes of Carlos Beltran, David Freese, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Rafael Furcal, Lance Berkman, and several other established hitters, Marp seems to be holding his own and then some.  He only has 93 at-bats, but he currently ranks 6th on the team in RBI, and the rest of his resume looks just as good.

  • Tied for 6th on the team in HR with 3
  • Slash line of .290/.352/.527/.879
  • Tied for the team lead in triples with 3 (Daniel Descalso also has 3) which is good for 3rd in the NL
  • At the moment, he remains the only Cardinals player who is not a regular starter with an oWAR of 0.5 of higher.
  • He has spent time at 1B, 3B, and both corner outfield spots
  • His 11.04 RF/9 at 1B leads the NL
  • He has an OPS+ of 135

Granted, he probably won’t spend enough time at any particular position to be even an average defender, but he has the potential to be truly solid at first base.  Unfortunately for him, he happens to be around 3rd on the depth chart at that position, and that assumes that injuries won’t prompt the elevation of Matt Adams from AAA.

Sadly, he likely will not receive enough attention and/or playing time to beat out the likes of Yonder Alonso and Bryce Harper.  Harper has made quite an impact with his Q-factor, but he has not really hit his stride quite yet.  Despite his 2 HR and 5 RBI, his slash line of .238/.319/.460/.780 fails to impress.  The good news for Harper?  He will see plenty of playing time, and he should quickly catch Carpenter in terms of at-bats, RBI, and HR.  Though Harper has a well-earned reputation as a great athlete and excellent defender, his -0.3 dWAR implies that he has a bit of work to do still.  The fact is that Carp has about 7 years on Harper, so a lot of what separates the two can be explained by experience and maturity.  That should not take anything away from the simple truth that Carpenter has had a much better season to this point than Harper has.

As for another ROY candidate, Yonder Alonso, the guy has been impressive so far.  His slash line of .296/.369/.416/.785 probably does not yet represent the kind of power he can generate, and his -0.4 dWAR offsets a lot of what he does in terms of overall offensive production.  Also, one can imagine that playing for the Padres does not help his cause a lot, either.  The combination of West Coast start times and run deficiencies due to both the team’s lineup and Petco Park hurt his chance somewhat.  Still, his 11 RBI in 125 at-bats pales in comparison to what Marp has done.

Players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wade Miley also deserve consideration in the NL ROY conversation, but I would still argue that Carpenter is the most underrated of the bunch.  Maybe that will change.

TIDBIT:  I really like the new celebratory dugout line which I have nicknamed #RedbirdRow on Twitter.  What say you, folks?

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more things that are underrated…like warm doughnuts!



Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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CardinalJohn May 18, 2012

I think you’re backing the wrong pony for Roy.ShaneR is sporting .1 higher fWAR and that includes D. MARP however, is a defensive liability
. He’s going to lose boatloads of PT when Berkman gets to full strength. However the loss of Craig and Jay will mean that he and Shano will be able to settle this on the field. Furthermore, ShaneR’s fWAR is with half as many PA and WAR takes PA into consideration. ShaneR would be the clear ROY leader if he was gown more chances.

Dennis May 18, 2012

Well, I have considered Shane Robinson, because he really did have a hot start. The problem for him as I see it is that his best position is probably CF, and he likely won’t see a lot of time there. Since he doesn’t play any IF positions, he doesn’t give the team a lot of flexibility. Unless Jon Jay loses a lot of games to injury, I just don’t anticipate Robinson getting enough time to matter.

Also, he is in the middle of a 1 for 22 slump right now, and he looks overmatched at the plate at times now. I think a lot of that might be related to the fact that he isn’t really a great pinch hitter, and what at-bats he could get as a PH may be taken by someone like Schumaker for here on out.

By the end of the season, I think his best bet for playing time may be a trade of someone ahead of him in the OF depth chart. Then again, he could just as easily be the guy who gets traded. While I think he is probably the best defensive CF on the team, I just don’t see him hitting well enough or with enough power to stick around a lot. I like his game, and I really enjoy watching him play, but my preferences have no impact on the reality that is the team’s current structure.

Also, if you are going to give Robinson the benefit of the doubt in terms of plate appearances, then I think it only fair to give Matt Carpenter the same benefit in terms of positioning. If Carpenter had no time spent in the OF, he would have a much, much higher dWAR value.

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