The Cardinals need Carpenter to set the table at the top of the order. Since May 1, he has started to do that on a consistent basis.

The Cardinals were an average team in April, struggling a bit in all phases of the game and unable to compete with most other contenders around the league. Matt Carpenter, the leadoff hitter, was part of the reason why the Cardinals were lacking in their offensive production.

At the end of April, Carpenter posted only a .230 batting average with three home runs, 17 RBIs, and four doubles. He had also struck out 21 times compared to 17 walks. While Carpenter was using the free pass from pitchers to get on base, he was failing to put the ball in play consistently. It’s never good to have your leadoff hitter striking out 21 times in a month and batting .230 to start the season.

When you compare this to Carpenter’s 2015 start, the differences are striking. In the opening of last season, Carpenter’s power numbers were fairly similar with three home runs and 14 RBIs. But, the batting average was at .372, almost 150 points over this season’s batting average through April 30. Also, Carpenter had only struck out 11 times and walked 10 times. So, he basically was putting the ball in play at a more consistent pace and putting the pressure on pitchers early in the game. This is a main part of the reason why the Cardinals started off so well in 2015 on their way to a remarkable 100-62 record.

We’re going to move past April now, but it is important to point out that Carpenter’s whopping difference in batting average did have an impact on the team’s success, as the Cardinals were 15-6 at the end of April 2015 and 12-12 at the end of April 2016.

While other Cardinal hitters like Aledmys Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker helped to pick up the slack in April, pitchers are now starting to figure them out. This has paved the way for other veteran players like Carpenter to take the load off the younger players who are adjusting to facing major league pitchers who have scouting reports on them.

Carpenter has responded to the challenge in May, improving his batting average from .230 to .257, mashing five more home runs, four more doubles, and driving in nine more runs. Also, he has improved his slugging percentage from .425 to .522, his OPS from .796 to .909, and his on base percentage from .370 to .387. These improvements have taken place for Carpenter while keeping up his plate discipline, as he has 10 walks in 13 games so far in May.

This improvement at the plate for the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter has led to more success for the team, as the Redbirds have posted an 8-6 record so far in the month of May. While this is only a two-game improvement, the Cardinals figure to be hitting an easier patch of the schedule as the Rockies and DBacks are making the trip to St. Louis this week.

As the 2016 season progresses, it will be interesting to see how Carpenter’s success at the plate translates to the team’s success in the Win-Loss record. The Cardinals had a 100-62 record in 2015, and Carpenter was an integral part of their success, posting his career high in doubles, home runs, and RBIs. From this article, we can tell that Carpenter is beginning to return to his usual form, which should have Cardinals fans excited for the rest of the 2016 season.

Photo Captured by Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports