There is one thing Matt Carpenter is undeniably good at. Getting on base. Over his career he has sported a .377 OBP and oddly enough a slightly higher .391 in the lead off spot. Regardless they are wanting to move him down in the order. Now everything I’ve seen has said either move him or Fowler into the 4th spot behind Ozuna. I want to make a case that it would be a giant waste to do so. Here is what I would want from a cardinals line up.
1. Fowler - .363 OBP (hope for the .393 from 2016) 4.4 pitches per plate appearance
2. Pham - .411 OBP (albeit one year) 4 pitches per at bat
3. Carpenter - .377 OBP (hope for the .391 from the lead off spot) 4.4 pitches per at bat
Now a couple things about this lineup. Ozuna is undoubtly the best hitter in the lineup and most experts think the best hitter should bat 3rd and arguably 2nd. We have a very unique situation though in that we have 3 hitters that are very good at just getting on base. I believe having anyone that gets on base nearly 40% of the time would be wasted hitting behind one of the best hitters in baseball. Using a probability matrix there is a 43% chance one person reaches base, 28% chance two people reach base, and 19% that all 3 do. Having that amount of base runners for a guy who hit 124 RBI’s hitting behind Stanton would be very very dangerous. On top of that each of them see’s a large amount of pitches so an average inning to get those 3 guys out takes 13 pitches which is the highest trio in the majors. The main concern though is Carpenter. I fully believe that if Mabry get his head out of his rear and tells Carpenter, "Hey just pretend you’re lead off". No change in approach just get on base we’ll see Carpenter finally do Carpenter in a non leadoff role. This allows Fowler to get back to being Fowler in the leadoff and without Carpenters slow baserunning in front of him Pham might just get those 30 steals. As for the rest of the lineup Gyorko and Martinez both have enough pop to "protect" Ozuna to give pause to just bypassing him. DeJong I actually think could hit higher but there’s not a fit that I see. Although Molina won’t like it the 7 spot will still provide him with many RBI opportunities and the reduced amount of at bats may just help keep him in games the next 3 years. Last is Wong. I’ve always been a big fan of Wong and have continually been frustrated with his handling. I know he’s a bit of a head case but I’ve just always felt like the coaching staff mishandled him and his abilities along the way. Last year we saw him come to fruition at the plate though. The reason I want him to stay in the 8th spot is because 1. We don’t have room at the top and 2. The 8th spot is one of the hardest spots to hit from because you don’t know if they’re actually pitching to you. For all of Kolton Wong’s downfalls at the plate he excelled in this spot and having him in a postition that can start up the base parade early is pretty invaluable.
We may still be missing one peace but that doesn’t seem to be available (FYI I’ve lived in kc for 5 years and Moose is volatile and definitely not better than Gyorko and Hosmer is the most over rated player alive. Carpenter is better both defensively and offensively and if you ever want to meet Hosmer just go clubbing the night after any game). Overall I don’t see a big upgrade being available until MAYBE mid season if Seattle tanks and for some reason wants to dump Seager (Hey! We’ll give you O’Niell back and throw in John Gant and a couple B prospects!). Past that looks like next year will be a big opportunity to make improvements to the lineup assuming the market doesn’t go full stupid and start handing out 400 mil contracts.