With Matt Carpenter struggling, it is time for the Cardinals to swallow their pride. Luke Voit deserves a chance.
If you have followed the site for a while, you will know that I am a big fan of Luke Voit. Starting in 2016, this was an uncommon opinion. A four-year college guy out of Missouri State, he was unknown despite tearing up the Texas League. Even at the beginning of 2017, my opinion was still deserving of healthy skepticism. He started off red-hot, but the sample size was undeniably small. Put simply, there has always been a reasonable excuse to write off Voit. Whether it is his defense, sample size of at-bats, or level at which he was performing, some excuse was always present.
Now, things have changed. Voit refuses to slow down in AAA, and he deserves his chance.
Before advancing to Voit, it is necessary to discuss the state of first base in St. Louis. Matt Carpenter is one of the faces of the franchise. He is scrappy, versatile, and (usually) an embodiment of solid, consistent play. Right now, however, he simply is not getting it done. So far as a first baseman, Carpenter is slashing .209/.341/.396 with 9 home runs and 27 runs batted in.
As the three-hitter in the Cardinals lineup, such numbers are truly unacceptable. If the Cardinals truly want a chance to compete for the National League Central, those numbers will have to change, one way or another. After yet another poor performance last night, in which Carpenter went 0-4, I became eager for a change.
Before continuing, I understand any hesitations that the Cardinals would have in benching Carpenter. He is supposed to be the guy, and has been such for many years. For this reason, he deserves some wiggle room, chances to return to peak performance as a ball player. At a certain point, however, the Cardinals must take action. Through nearly one-third of the season (51 games), Carpenter just is not getting it done. He has had 219 plate appearances to make a difference, and the results just have not arrived.
With the Cardinals just 3.5 games back, it is reasonable to argue that the Cardinals just don’t have time to wait on Carpenter.
Luckily, a possible solution is waiting patiently in AAA Memphis. Previously mentioned, I believe Voit finally deserves a couple starts at first base, at least a chance to rotate in and get some at-bats. As you will come to see, it is hard to argue against him. He has done nothing but prove himself in the Minor Leagues, and he truly deserves the ultimate reward. On top of the individual element, I believe Voit could really add the spark the Cardinals need in the heart of their lineup.
Now for the evidence. As a I wrote earlier in the article, skepticism was warranted with Voit early on. Sure, he was on fire, but he needed to show consistency to really be taken seriously.
As far as I can tell, he has done just that for Memphis. Through 54 games, Voit has slashed .321/.410/.546. He has 18 doubles, 8 home runs, and 34 RBIs. He has been the undisputed MVP in Memphis, demonstrating himself as a dynamic, yet consistent force in their lineup. At the moment, this is just what the Cardinals need.
Memphis scores in the 1st again tonight!
Luke Voit drives in his 34th run of the season with a sac fly!
— Memphis Redbirds (@memphisredbirds) June 7, 2017
What The Cardinals Should Do
At 26 years old, the time is now with Voit. He is definitely on the older side for a Minor League prospect, and the clock is surely ticking. At a certain point, the Cardinals will have wasted time, letting a seriously talented prospect wait too long for his shot. With Carpenter struggling, this is the perfect chance.
As I see it, too, bringing up Voit is a relatively low-risk, high reward decision. In the best case scenario, Voit will become a sensation, igniting the Cardinals through a continuation of his AAA form. At the worst, his promotion will anger and motivate Carpenter, lighting a fire for him to pick up his performance and step up down the stretch.
Furthermore, Carpenter’s versatility could (hypothetically) keep him in the lineup should Voit thrive at first base. While the Cardinals “declared” him the official first basemen for 2017, that is by no means a binding statement.
In conclusion, this dilemma, in an objective sense, is very simple. Carpenter is struggling, while Voit is tearing it up. As such, Voit deserves a chance. He can flat out hit, and deserves at least a chance to show such abilities at the highest level. While I understand the influence and prior contributions of Carpenter, the Cardinals have to take emotion out of this situation. I understand that is far easier said than done, but Voit is being wasted in AAA. It is time to make him a Cardinal.