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Matt Carpenter might be heating up? - A Hunt and Peck

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Or maybe not???

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Carpenter is a difficult hitter to describe. He is a good hitter, that we know, or at least we thought we knew. So far in 2019, Carp has not gotten off to the hottest start. In 166 plate appearances his wRC+ is at 91, which is pretty far off his career average of 131. Things seem to be trending positively for Carp, however, and that has me wondering:

Does Matt Carpenter heat up when the weather does?

I am not about to try to convince people that Matt Carpenter needs warm weather to play baseball. There are tons of factors that go into the performance of a baseball player. This is Hunt and Peck though, and we specialize in the ridiculous here. So let’s investigate, just for fun!

I think the simplest way to look at this is to look at month-by-month wRC+. Anecdotally most of us have a general idea of which months are warmer in North America, but I added the average temperature (in Fahrenheit) for each month in St. Louis in the table as well. Here is what I found:

data via Fangraphs

So what does this mean? Honestly, not much. As we expected, there does not appear to be any correlation between the temperature and how Matt Carpenter hits. What the table does show is that Carpenter, with the exception of 2015, historically seems to start the season off a bit slow, yet almost always seems to get close to that 131 career wRC+ by season’s end. Perhaps one season the time will come where Carp doesn’t heat up in May — maybe that is this year. Over the last week though, Carpenter has gone 8 for 32 with a double and home run, for a 121 wRC+ during that time and a 12.5% strikeout percentage to a 12.5% walk rate. It could be nothing — that small of a sample size certainly is not evidence of anything. It is merely a flicker of light in the dark. If Matt Carpenter does what he always has, though, that flicker should ignite.

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