Since becoming a starter in 2013, Matt Carpenter has been a very good hitter - one of the best in baseball, really. Every season, he has seemingly become a different type of good hitter - high contact - low strikeout, high on base percentage, and then 2015's high power - high (for him) strikeout rate version being the most recent.
2016 has become another thing entirely. This season, so far, Carpenter has appeared to become the best version of all the previous versions. Not only is the man hitting for power (his slugging percentage is the highest of his career), but his walk rate is currently a career high and his strikeout rate has fallen down to 17.1%. All of this combines for a 163 wRC+, second best in all of baseball behind David Ortiz.
I was once watching a Toronto Blue Jays - Tampa Bay Rays game with a gentleman who during the game had referred to Jose Bautista as "Future Cardinal Jose Bautista". I chuckled a bit, because that seemed such a lofty dream, but according to Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, in a convoluted way, this man was correct:
So to summarize: Carpenter traded some contact for power, but then he boosted the power and the contact, and, I don't know, but here we are. You might think his numbers look very familiar. This is because Carpenter now resembles a left-handed prime Jose Bautista.
And while Bautista, of course, has done this over several seasons, while Carpenter has done this over about half of one, look at the similarities. LOOK AT THEM. Same walks. Same strikeouts. Same power. Same batted-ball tendencies. Same pull-side preference, with limited strength the other way.
The article includes a table with each players' numbers that I will let you follow the link the view. The numbers are incredibly similar, except, as Sullivan notes, Carpenter has actually been a little better so far due to less infield fly balls. At some point, Matt Carpenter transformed from a "good hitter" to Jose Bautista and that is really cool!
Don't you just love him?
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KNOW THINE ENEMY...
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