Spring Training has started and many St. Louis Cardinals players are in The Best Shape Of Their Life (TM). And now it is time for the annual Viva El Birdos tradition of Community Player Projections.
For the second consecutive year, we begin the series with Matt Carpenter. Following a 2016 season hampered by injuries, Carpenter logged 622 plate appearances in 2017, hitting 23 home runs, scoring 91 runs, and driving in 69 runs. Never much of a stolen base threat, Carpenter did top his 2016 stolen base total of zero with a whopping two in 2017.
Although Carpenter posted a relatively pedestrian .241 batting average on the season, the Cardinals second baseman-turned-third baseman-turned-first baseman remains a sabermetric darling, drawing walks in 17.5% of his plate appearances and finishing the season with a .384 on-base percentage, his best since 2013. His slugging percentage of .451, however, was his lowest since 2014. In the end, Carpenter’s 2.9 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement was the worst since he became a regular starter while his 2.9 Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement was tied for his worst since 2013.
If Carpenter bats third, as expected, for the entire season, his RBI totals should increase, and his relatively low batting average on balls in play, a career-low .274, could signal improvement. However, Spring Training injury concerns could hamper Carpenter and if he is even more consigned to first base, it may reduce his overall defensive value by Wins Above Replacement metrics.
Here is how the VEB community projected Matt Carpenter last season. You can check out Carpenter’s ZiPS projections here, his Steamer projections here, and his Baseball Prospectus projections here. Let your voice be heard below. Check back in the coming days and weeks for more player projection surveys.