Matt Carpenter's sizzling hot streak has him positioned for another excellent season

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Carpenter is crushing the baseball. His stat line shows it. And the projection systems have taken notice.

It's difficult to determine when a player's hot or cold streak begins or ends. When does he go from average or luke warm to hot? When does a hitless stretch evolve into a full-blown slump? These questions are difficult to answer with particularity.

It's that way for Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter's current hot streak. So I'm going to eschew the normal sizing up of when the hot streak began and use an arbitrary date for Carpenter: May 24, 2014. It's a random day in the course of Carpenter's season, but not for Viva El Birdos. That's the day that I took a look at the 2014 deflation in Carpenter's batting statistics as compared to his MVP-caliber season a year ago:

Year

PA

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2013

717

13.7

10.0

.359

.318

.392

.481

.873

.163

.381

147

2014

221

18.1

12.7

.336

.271

.371

.330

.701

.059

.321

104

Carpenter's strikeouts were up, his BABIP was down, and his power-hitting was nonexistent. Since then, however, Carpenter has hit and hit and hit some more. The Texan has hit for average and power, including this monstrous homer in Canada. From the day the post ran through Sunday's series finale vs. the Blue Jays, Carpenter has batted for the following line:


PA

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

5/24-6/8

75

12.0

10.7

.429

.379

.446

.576

1.022

.197

.444

189

From May 24 through Sunday, Carpenter has struck out below 2013 levels, walked a bit more often, hit for more power, and rapped out a far higher average, thanks to a very high BABIP. The surge—which has spanned about the equivalent of one-third the PA total he had through May 24—has pumped up Carpenter's offensive stat line considerably.

Year

PA

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2013

717

13.7

10.0

.359

.318

.392

.481

.873

.163

.381

147

2014

296

16.6

12.2

.361

.299

.390

.394

.789

.094

.352

126

Carpenter is still well below his 2013 production levels even after the hot streak has driven up his batting stats for the season. In particular, his power-hitting is still lagging behind where it was in 2013. But, entering the 2014 season, Carpenter was unlikely to duplicate his batting line from last season's MVP-caliber performance. And his recently torrid batting has put his ZiPS and Steamer updated end-of-year projections about where they were before opening day—save for power as represented by ISO. (I didn't label the WAR because I'm not sure if Fangraphs calculated it or used the projection system's respective WAR forecasts.)

ZiPS

Pro.

PA

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

WAR

Pre

615

16.4

10.1

.314

.272

.351

.413

.764

.141

.334

3.4

6/9

685

16.5

11.3

.342

.288

.374

.402

.776

.115

.347

4.5

Steamer

Pro.

PA

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

WAR

Pre

597

14.7

10.6

-

.284

.365

.422

.787

.138

.348

3.8

6/9

635

15.9

11.5

.343

.291

.378

.406

.784

.114

.351

4.4

Carpenter's hot streak has put him on an excellent trajectory for the season. There's still a lot of baseball to be played, to be sure. But it's nonetheless heartening to see Carpenter turn things around so quickly with a blazing hot streak.

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