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Who is the St. Louis Cardinals' best hitter? Has Carlos Martinez solved lefties? Has Trevor Rosenthal fixed his control problems? Pat Who? Is first base the new right field?

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A look at a handful of statistical trends so far this young season.

It's been a busy week here at VEB what with the MLB Draft and Matt Holliday going down with an injury. Instead of a long analytical post today, I thought we could touch on a few statistics of interest in early June.

Who is best hitter left in the Cardinals lineup?

With Matt Holliday on the DL with a torn quad, who is the best hitter in the Cardinals lineup: Jhonny Peralta or Matt Carpenter? You probably won't be surprised to learn that Peralta had a better season statistically at the plate than Carpenter in 2014.

2014: Peralta vs. Carpenter

Player

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Peralta

628

21

.263

.336

.443

.779

.180

.343

120

Carpenter

709

8

.272

.375

.375

.750

.103

.339

117

But you might be a bit surprised to learn that Peralta has also hit better than Carpenter this year through the Cardinals' last game, which was on June 10. This is primarily due to the last 28 days. Over that stretch, according to Baseball-Reference, Peralta is batting .340/.421/.606 to Carpenter's .261/.383/.364. During the last two weeks of games, Carpenter's line has sagged to .225/.373/.250 compared to Peralta's .356/.420/.622. Here's how their overall 2015 lines compare:

2015: Peralta vs. Carpenter

Player

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Peralta

247

10

.315

.377

.523

.899

.207

.386

147

Carpenter

244

8

.297

.385

.507

.892

.211

.384

145

Here's what ZiPS forecasts for the two Cardinals during the remaining months of the 2015 season.

ZiPS 2015 Rest-of-Season Projections: Peralta vs. Carpenter

Player

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

Peralta

359

11

.278

.338

.448

.786

.170

.314

117

Carpenter

398

7

.280

.367

.427

.794

.147

.349

122

ZiPS expects Carpenter to perform better over the remainder of the season, but it's close. Thank goodness the Cardinals signed Peralta during the 2013-14 Hot Stove. I shudder to think where they'd have been last season or where they'd be today if he were not wearing the birds on the bat.

Has Carlos Martinez solved lefthanded batters?

In 2013 and 2014, St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez struggled against opposite-handed hitters. So this has been a split that I've been tracking during this season, his first as a full-time starter. Then Jeff Sullivan does what Jeff Sullivan so often does. He wrote a good post in Fangraphs. This one was about Martinez's changeup and you should read it. He noted Martinez's improved performance against lefties—which I had intended to do in this post prior to reading Sullivan's.

It's a tiny sample in 2015, and Martinez has faced more lefthanded batters this season than he did in either 2014 or 2013. Nonetheless, there's both good and bad in his split line. The bad is the worst part about his overall 2015 performance: too many free passes issued. Martinez's walk rate against lefties is stratospheric this year. The other problem is power. Martinez isn't giving up many hits against lefties, but the ones he has surrendered have been powerful. That being said, the K rate is heartening and, as Sullivan touched on, this is largely due to the emergence of Martinez's changeup.

Carlos Martinez vs. LHB: 2013, 2014, & 2015

Year

TBF

K%

BB%

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

wOBA

2013

51

11.8

7.8

.319

.319

.373

.391

.331

2014

171

11.1

12.9

.315

.289

.387

.462

.363

2015

151

23.2

13.9

.247

.215

.325

.400

.320

Has Trevor Rosenthal solved his control problems?

I have written a couple of posts on closer Trevor Rosenthal's 2014 struggles. The Cardinals closer issued too many walks a year ago. His walk rate more than doubled from 2013 to 2014. During spring training, manager Mike Matheny talked about how he didn't understand why pitchers threw out of the windup at all because it was simpler and easier to repeat one's delivery out of the stretch. After the Cardinals tried and failed to fix Justin Masterson with such a change in delivery last season, they tried it on Rosenthal in spring training. It made sense to me since Rosenthal struggles repeating his mechanics (which I have come to the conclusion makes him a poor fit for the rotation—not that this is still a possibility). The adjustment seems to be working so far this young season. He's throwing pitches in the zone at about the same rate he was in 2013 (about 1.3 percentage points higher than last year) and walking batter far less often: 13.6% in 2014 compared to 8.9% so far this year.

Pat Who?

In the 2013-14 Hot Stove, the Cardinals signed sidewinding righty Pat Neshek to a minor-league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training. Neshek made the St. Louis roster and ultimately supplanted Martinez as the club's primary eighth-inning setup guy. Then Neshek signed a fat contract to relieve for the Astros. The Cardinals acquired Jordan Walden (along with Jason Heyward), but he hit the DL with a concerning shoulder injury early in the year after a great start to the season. So how have the Cardinals performed in the eighth inning? Pretty well.

The Cardinals collectively held opponents to a .237/.305/.321 batting line last season during the eighth inning. This year, the other team is hitting .252/.321/.347 against the Redbirds during the eighth. That's roughly the same. But that doesn't necessarily tell us how the Cardinals are performing in setup situations, where the game is fairly close in the eighth inning. It's worth noting that Neshek faced 147 batters in the eighth inning last year out of the 674 the Cardinals faced collectively. Kevin Siegrist has already faced 52 so far this year. Walden had 28 batsmen log a plate appearance against him before he hit the DL. At any rate, Siegrist has proven a fine replacement to Neshek's eighth-inning replacement, Walden.

Is first base is the new right field?

You may recall that I wrote a post that came to the conclusion that Jason Heyward might be the biggest upgrade at any position by any team during the Hot Stove. The primary reason for that forecast is that Heyward is good at all facets of the game while the 2014 St. Louis right-field collective was rather bad in every facet—hitting in particular.

Last year, the Cardinals right fielder posted a combined .237/.283/.326 line. Baseball-Reference has a sOPS+ stat, which compares a split against the league-wide average for that split. A score of 100 is exactly average for the split. Each point above 100 is a percent better than average; each point below, is a percent worse. The Cardinals right fielders' batting line works out to a 67 sOPS+, which is horrendous.

The 2015 production at first base for the Cardinals has been as terrible as the team's 2014 production from right field. This year, Cardinals first basemen are hitting a combined .242/.299/.368. That .667 OPS works out to a 66 OPS+. It's a ghastly black hole. If you star at the line long enough, it stares back at you. Truly haunting stuff.

It's a natural reaction to blame Matt Adams. His .239/.279/.377 start to the year was bad (62 sOPS+ bad). But Mark Reynolds has been putrid as well even if his average and on-base percentage are higher than any of us could have reasonably expected. The power we all thought the Cards had acquired when they signed Reynolds hasn't showed up. He's posted a .109 ISO to date, having gone the full Mabry (I kid...well, kind of). Add it all together and Reynolds's 73 sOPS+ is quite bad. With Holliday out and the Cardinals apparently intent on playing out-maker extraordinaire Randal Grichuk daily in left field, the Cards can't afford production at first as subpar as that of Reynolds. How long until general manager John Mozeliak makes a trade to upgrade at first base?

Correction: The original version of this post stated the incorrect stats for the Cardinals' 2014 eighth-inning splits, including Pat Neshek's. The righty did not face just 27 batsmen in the eighth inning last year. He faced 147 out of the 647 the Cardinals squared off against collectively. The post has been updated to include the proper numbers.

FanDuel

SBN and FanDuel have entered into an exclusive partnership with respect to daily fantasy baseballing. Clayton Kershaw starts against the Padres in San Diego and Madison Bumgarner draws the Diamondbacks at home. But those are likely pricy plays today. I imagine Jeff Locke against Philly to be a better value play, if that's what you need. You can play FanDuel here.