Matt Carpenter has raked at the plate lately, so what has been the difference in his approach?
Although the Cardinals are coming off their first losing month (12-13) in a very long time, their offensive production at the top of the lineup has been superb. Between Matt Carpenter and Aledmys Diaz, the Cardinals offense is in good hands when it comes to getting on base and setting the table.
In fact, Carpenter has been pretty close to the best in the league offensively in the last month. Going into June with a .272 batting average, Carpenter would leave June at .296. So, how did the Cardinals slugger raise his batting average by 25 points? The key lies in the OPS.
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) June 27, 2016
Not only has Carpenter been getting on base to help out the guys behind him, he has been driving the ball to outfield gaps and out of the ballpark. This recent power surge has helped him climb the National League rankings all the way up to 13th in RBIs, tied with teammate Matt Holliday. For some, 50 RBIs might not seem that impressive. But, out of the leadoff spot, for Carpenter to already reach the halfway point to 100 is truly spectacular.
Let’s take a deeper look at Matt’s numbers in the month of June. Carpenter finished the month with a .349 batting average, .491 on base percentage, and .663 slugging percentage while adding five home runs, 14 RBIs, nine doubles, and a triple. Perhaps more impressively, he was able to walk 23 times while striking out only 15 times.
That last statistic is a very important one for leadoff hitters. Carpenter’s willingness to take pitches and maturity to stay in counts instead of starting a game or an inning with a punch out really helps out the rest of the lineup behind him. His at bats turn in to momentum builders instead of rusty appearances from the outset.
Looking at the bigger picture, let’s see where Carpenter’s numbers in his last 30 games put him in the National League leaders. His .373 batting average and .514 on base percentage, and 23 walks have him atop the standings in each category by a fairly wide margin. Also, his nine doubles and 19 runs scored place him in the top 10 in the National League in those categories.
Looking ahead, it will be critical for Carpenter to keep up these numbers if the Cardinals are going to have a chance at competing with the Cubs. Whenever a team is in a hole, they look to their superstars to lead them. Carpenter is unquestionably the offensive superstar in the Cardinals clubhouse, and hopefully he will relish that leadership role and lead the Redbirds closer to that coveted National League Central Division crown.
Photo captured by Jennifer Buchanan- USA Today Sports