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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

MLB—How Matt Carpenter went from hitting .140 in mid-May to potential MVP

I picked up Carpenter as a buy-low guy early in the season. Unfortunately a rash of injuries hit and I released him!

Arrrrrrrrrrrrghh!

Jim Furtado Posted: August 22, 2018 at 09:34 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, matt carpenter

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 22, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5731541)
I picked up Carpenter as a buy-low guy early in the season. Unfortunately a rash of injuries hit and I released him!

I drafted him around the 15th round IIRC, and carried him in my starting lineup for about 6 weeks. Four weeks ago I played the team that picked him up once he got good, and it was that stretch where he hit 8 HR and had 12 RBI in a week to go along with a .558 OBP. Yeah, thanks Matt.
   2. Lassus Posted: August 22, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5731560)
Drugs?
   3. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5731651)
STERIODS
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5731654)
JASON GIMABI RAINBOW JUICE
   5. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:50 PM (#5731675)
THE CREAM
THE CLEAR
THE CARPENTER
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5731682)
He's got long hair, works as a carpenter, has a lot of crazy ideas about love and brotherhood!
His name's Gunther and he's dating my mom. Sometimes he buys us beer.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: August 22, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5731856)
This is the first article I've seen talking about Carpenter improvement, that didn't mention the fact that he talked to the Cardinal stat guys and was basically told "you are just unlucky right now, we have every faith you'll rebound back to form.--the numbers say nothings really changed."

This is one of the things I think that stat analysis should be used to relay information to the players. And it's something I think is being relayed in a much better way than it was 10 or 30 years ago.
   8. Hank Gillette Posted: August 22, 2018 at 11:43 PM (#5732061)
Is he really that strong an MVP candidate? While WAR isn’t everything, he is seventh in the league in WAR (third among position players). He’s on pace for a 7 WAR season, maybe more if you ignore the early season. He is leading the league in HRs, SLG, and OPS+, but he is not even in the top ten in the all-important RBI.

Meanwhile, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola are on pace for 10+ WAR seasons. Carpenter has a story, but with the resurgence of the Phillies, so does Nola.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 22, 2018 at 11:57 PM (#5732073)
Beyond the points made in number 8 can a guy be THAT bad for that long and be a real MVP candidate? Let’s take two players, equal WAR, generally equal across the board, would you rather have the guy who is a two month disaster and Babe Ruth for four months or the guy who is great do six months?

I’m not sure what the answer I would give is. I can see arguments both ways. I tend to lean toward the more consistent player but the four month guy has his points as well.
   10. TomH Posted: August 23, 2018 at 09:15 AM (#5732152)
Carpenter seems to have a good story line for being an MVP candidate; hit crazy good after a horrific start, helped carry a team into playoff contention, leads league in HR.
But there are some nasty facts which get in the way of the story: Let's compare Matt C with another mostly-bat player whose story line is total opposite; the guy is a bum, complete disappointment, let his team collapse; Bryce H.
..... AB .AVG R RBI HR BB OPS
Carp 445 .271 85 69 34 80 959
Harp 437 .250 80 81 30 91 897

Why are Harper's R and RBI totals better? Must be batting order / men on related, right? Wrong. Carpenter has hit very poorly with men on. Harper has hit very well with men on. Which is why Harper has driven in 16 more baserunners. I am NOT a fan of RBI-leader-for-MOVP *at all*, but you can't ignore situational hitting and merely go with WAR to decide value. Carpenter's SLG is 140 pts worse with men on, while Harper's is 60 pts better.

Here are the RBI totals for the men who are in the top 6 in the NL in total bases (Carpenter is 6th): 73 84 92 87 78 69. Like the old Sesame Street song, one of these things is not like the others.

Matt Carpenter has had a fine year with the bat to date. He is NOT NOT NOT the NL MVP.
   11. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 23, 2018 at 09:21 AM (#5732155)
Here are the RBI totals for the men who are in the top 6 in the NL in total bases (Carpenter is 6th): 73 84 92 87 78 69. Like the old Sesame Street song, one of these things is not like the others.


Those values are very evenly distributed with no outlier. I don't know if you're saying that 92 is not like the others, or 69 is not like the others.

92
87
84
78
73
69
   12. Tim M Posted: August 23, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5732206)
the guy is a bum, complete disappointment, let his team collapse;


Pre All Star break, yes. Since he fixed himself in the HR Derby, he's at .364/.441/.655. That is gonna be one lucrative turnaround.
   13. phredbird Posted: August 23, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5732237)

generally on board with the analysis here.

to my mind, he's only an MVP candidate if he keeps up his current pace, which i don't think is sustainable. carp has had hot months before, followed by steep regression.

just last night, while the cards were putting on a rousing win in L.A., it has been overlooked that he went 0-4, striking out every time and looking a little lost.
   14. Master of the Horse Posted: August 23, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5732245)
People care about rbi??
   15. Master of the Horse Posted: August 23, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5732248)
Do people know that Carpenter is hitting leadoff for the Cards? Hard to get that precious rbi in that spot

And how does the math work that a guy at 4.4 WAR in on August 23 is on track for a 7 WAR season??

   16. spycake Posted: August 23, 2018 at 01:33 PM (#5732349)
And how does the math work that a guy at 4.4 WAR in on August 23 is on track for a 7 WAR season??


Carpenter is at 5.1 bWAR, although that is still only a 6.5 season pace. Unless you discount the early season slump.
   17. Rally Posted: August 23, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5732362)
NL MVP race is kind of wide open. By WAR the top 4 players in the league are all pitchers. Two strikes against them - voters tend not to vote for pitchers unless they are clearly ahead of the top hitter, and of the top 3 pitchers (Scherzer, Nola, DeGrom), two are unlikely to impossible to be on a playoff team, and the third is on a team still in the race, but would miss the playoffs if today's standings hold.

The top 6 position players by WAR are between 4.9 and 5.7, with a drop to 4.3 for #7. I think that's close enough for any of the top 6 to be the man, especially since we don't know how they finish. Carpenter has about as good a case as Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt, the other corner sluggers. Nolan Arenado is having his typical year, which earned him 4th and 5th place MVP finishes in recent years. His DRS is closer to average than his typical gold glove numbers. Lorenzo Cain leads in WAR at 5.7. He's doing it without a go to stat though, a good OBP, moderate power, excellent baserunning, and strong CF defense. Finally Javier Baez is an interesting candidate - leads the league in RBI, solid average and power, playing strong D at multiple positions for the top team in the league. Only knock on him is the 116-18 K-W.

I'm having a tough time deciding on who should be the MVP, and don't think there's much reason right now to think deeply on it. Plenty of season left and somebody is likely to do something to raise himself above the rest of the pack before the playoff race is over.
   18. Master of the Horse Posted: August 23, 2018 at 01:46 PM (#5732363)
16: Talk about wonky. Checked baseballreference prior to posting and that was 4.4. Now I check and all totals different not just for Carpenter. Guess I hit the site while stuff was updating or other? But thanks for correction
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: August 23, 2018 at 05:51 PM (#5732516)
Why are Harper's R and RBI totals better? Must be batting order / men on related, right? Wrong. Carpenter has hit very poorly with men on. Harper has hit very well with men on. Which is why Harper has driven in 16 more baserunners. I am NOT a fan of RBI-leader-for-MOVP *at all*, but you can't ignore situational hitting and merely go with WAR to decide value. Carpenter's SLG is 140 pts worse with men on, while Harper's is 60 pts better.

Here are the RBI totals for the men who are in the top 6 in the NL in total bases (Carpenter is 6th): 73 84 92 87 78 69. Like the old Sesame Street song, one of these things is not like the others.

Matt Carpenter has had a fine year with the bat to date. He is NOT NOT NOT the NL MVP.


This is one of those type of posts where the guy clearly made the conclusion, then went looking for support for that conclusion.

Harper has 16 more baserunners driven in because he's came up more often with runners on base. Harper has had 228 pa with men on base, vs 135 for Carpenter. Nobody is actually saying ignore situational stats, but your one sided argument is missing 3/5ths of these guys plate appearances. And how can you be called an MVP hitter when 60% of the time you put up a line of .210/.316/.491/.807(Harper's numbers in 313 pa this season with nobody on) Heck in those 313 plate appearances Harper has only 22 rbi, Carpenter has 28, so clearly Carpenter is a much better clutch hitter when there is nobody on base.

or you know how about Late and Close games, Carpenter puts up a line of .295/.405/.738/1.143 vs Harper putting up a .145/.347/.327/.674, so when the game is on the line, who would you rather have up to bat this year?
In a tie game Harper has a line of .204/.329/.416/.745 vs Carpenter .293/.402/.612/1.015, so in a tie game, who would you rather have up this year?
Game within one run Carpenter has a line of .261/.377/.530/.907 vs Harper with a line of .239/.367/.474/.841, again who would you rather have up in that situation this year?

Now of course when the score is greater than 4, that is when Harper shines, to a tune of .326/.517/.651/1.168....this looks like a guy who is padding his stats in blowouts and not a guy who you count on in close games.

If you look at their numbers in high leverage situation, Carpenter has posted a line of .292/.442/.538/.980 vs Harper's .227/.396/.347/.743.

How can you seriously make the claim that Carpenter is the one failing in the clutch in comparison to Harper?
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: August 23, 2018 at 05:57 PM (#5732517)
Pre All Star break, yes. Since he fixed himself in the HR Derby, he's at .364/.441/.655. That is gonna be one lucrative turnaround.


Agree, if he shows he can actually return to his expected form, he's going to get a heck of a payday, and heck that line is barely behind Carpenter's line of .286/.409/.690/1.100
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:04 PM (#5732518)
As to whether or not Carpenter is really in the MVP discussion, that really is going to depend on 1. his September 2. How the Cardinals do in the playoff hunt. 3. whether or not the voters can get pass their anti-pitcher bias or not. Carpenter is 4th in the NL in position player war, and the difference between first 5.7 (Cain) and 6th 4.9 (Baez) is close enough that any of those guys could be argued as legitimately the best position player in the NL.


I'm not really seeing any reason to make the argument that because he sucked for the first month and a half of the season, that he shouldn't get consideration for the MVP, as the Cardinals really started winning when he was getting hot, and if anything, that would be a reason given to their success and suggesting he is the MVP.
   22. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5732519)
Is he really that strong an MVP candidate? While WAR isn’t everything, he is seventh in the league in WAR (third among position players).

Third among position players (and .6 off of the lead with over a month left) is generally a pretty strong candidate. (Yes, the pitchers are having better years, but nobody votes for pitchers.) The NL position player field is pretty weak in general this year; the WAR leader is an outfielder with 9 home runs. (Cain is having a good-to-very good year in every other respect, but... nine home runs in a league that averages more than one home run per team per game.)
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:11 PM (#5732522)
Note: I'm not advocating for or against Carpenter for MVP at this point in time, the season still has a month to go, and in my opinion, traditionally at bats in September are worth twice as much as at bats in other months to the voters. (although I get the feeling that that is changing over time, as it seems almost every year now you see an article somewhere arguing why are at bats/wins worth more in September than April etc.)
   24. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:18 PM (#5732528)
The potential analog for Carpenter that comes to mind in terms of the actual voting history is Justin Morneau in '06: slow start for a team that started slow (on May 8, the Twins were 13-19 and Morneau was hitting .206/.272/.415), then played well from there (.345/.396/.592, 28 HR, 113 RBI in 129 games) for a team that also played well (83-47) and made the playoffs. Also, the AL position player field wasn't especially strong that year (Grady Sizemore led the league with 6.6 WAR).

Carpenter is having a better year than Morneau as a hitter (he already has as many HR as Morneau's full-season total from '06), and splits time between third and first, and has the extra advantage of actually being the best player on his team (Mauer and Santana were both better than Morneau in '06). So if he plays well in September and the Cardinals make the playoffs, there's definitely precedent for his potential MVP selection.
   25. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5732548)
I get the feeling that that is changing over time, as it seems almost every year now you see an article somewhere arguing why are at bats/wins worth more in September than April etc.

The way teams are run now, the April games are more important since they determine whether your GM is going to be buying or selling at the trade deadline, potentially rendering your as-yet-unplayed September schedule much less relevant.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: August 23, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5732582)
The way teams are run now, the April games are more important since they determine whether your GM is going to be buying or selling at the trade deadline, potentially rendering your as-yet-unplayed September schedule much less relevant.


I did consider that as I was making my comment, and even thought about making that point, but that would go counter to the Carpenter argument being talked here.
   27. Hank Gillette Posted: August 23, 2018 at 09:26 PM (#5732642)
And how does the math work that a guy at 4.4 WAR in on August 23 is on track for a 7 WAR season??


Apparently, I was in a generous mood. But, if you take his production rate since he started hitting, and project that for the rest of the season, he could come close.
   28. Hank Gillette Posted: August 23, 2018 at 09:32 PM (#5732649)
(Yes, the pitchers are having better years, but nobody votes for pitchers.) The NL position player field is pretty weak in general this year; the WAR leader is an outfielder with 9 home runs.


Nobody votes for pitchers for MVP, except when they do (usually when there is no outstanding position player). By WAR, Scherzer has already exceeded Kershaw’s 2014 MVP season, and Nola is within the margin of error.
   29. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 23, 2018 at 10:18 PM (#5732676)
Nobody votes for pitchers for MVP, except when they do (usually when there is no outstanding position player). By WAR, Scherzer has already exceeded Kershaw’s 2014 MVP season, and Nola is within the margin of error.

True enough. But only two starting pitchers have won MVPs in the last 30 years. Their win-loss records were 24-5 (Verlander '11) and 21-3 (Kershaw '14), and their teams both won their divisions. A sample size of two isn't necessarily definitive (although it is suggestive that they're the only two who have won at all), but I wouldn't expect either Scherzer or Nola to actually win the MVP this year, especially with most of the NL contenders having a viable position-playing candidate (Freeman, Baez, Carpenter, Cain, Goldschmidt, Arenado).

Actually, this seems like a recipe for a very split vote. The lowest MVP shares by an MVP winner in the last 30 years are:
62% for A-Rod in '03
64% for Pudge in '99
65% for Yount in '89

Ten different players (TEN) received first-place votes in the 2003 AL MVP balloting. Unless someone has a great September and a narrative coalesces around them, we could see something like that in the NL this year.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2018 at 05:31 AM (#5732763)
Ten different players (TEN) received first-place votes in the 2003 AL MVP balloting. Unless someone has a great September and a narrative coalesces around them, we could see something like that in the NL this year.



Agreed, and something like that could result in any legit candidate winning, including a pitcher on a non-playoff team. I could see Scherzer getting the win while only receiving 2-4 first place votes but racking up a ton of 2nd and 3rd place votes. He is at 16-5 already, and will probably get 20 wins or very close to it, so that is going to help also.
   31. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 24, 2018 at 11:03 PM (#5733458)
Agreed, and something like that could result in any legit candidate winning, including a pitcher on a non-playoff team. I could see Scherzer getting the win while only receiving 2-4 first place votes but racking up a ton of 2nd and 3rd place votes.

I mean... that's possible, but again, the recent history of starting pitchers in the MVP voting goes the other way. For instance, Pedro got the most first-place votes in the '99 AL but still lost. Maddux in '95 had more first-place votes than Dante Bichette but still finished behind him.

Looking at pitchers who've led their leagues in bWAR over the last 10 years... Verlander in '11 and Kershaw in '14 both won the MVP, both fairly comfortably though neither was close to unanimous either. (Again, Verlander went 24-5, the most wins any pitcher had posted in 9 years; Kershaw went 21-3 and had a 1.77 ERA, which at the time was the lowest qualifying ERA since Pedro in 2000. And both of their teams won their divisions.) The others are:

Corey Kluber, 2014 AL (8.3 WAR). 18-9 record, team went 85-77 and missed playoffs. Trout won the MVP unanimously; Kluber finished 11th in the voting (45 points).
Clayton Kershaw, 2013 NL (8.5). 16-9, team went 92-70 and won division. McCutchen won near-unanimously; Kershaw finished 7th (146 points).
Cliff Lee, 2011 NL (8.9). 17-8, team won 102 games and (obviously) won the division. Braun won comfortably but not unanimously; Lee finished 15th (12 points). Honorable mention to Lee's rotation-mate Roy Halladay, who had 8.6 WAR, went 19-6 and was 9th in the MVP voting (52 points).
Roy Halladay, 2010 NL (8.3). 21-10, team won 95 games and the division. Votto won near-unanimosuly; Halladay finished 6th (130 points).
Zack Greinke, 2009 AL (10.4). 16-8, team won 65 games. Mauer won near-unanimously, Greinke finished 17th (12 points).

Absent a hugely eye-catching year on a very good team, it has been difficult in recent years for a starting pitcher to get traction in the voting. Scherzer might win 20, or he might not; he's currently 42 points behind the league ERA lead, and his team is both mediocre and disappointing. I expect him to get some votes, but probably fewer than he'll deserve, and probably not enough to win.

If Scherzer and Nola finish the season with similar numbers (they're within rounding of being tied in ERA right now), I would expect Nola to do better in the MVP voting even if he might not in the Cy Young, just because his team is better (and surprising).
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: August 25, 2018 at 12:03 AM (#5733489)
I'll flat out state that I think the award voting is in midst of a catastrophic change(for the better for the most part) and that means that it's going to be tough to predict the future vote based upon past votes.... and simply "won/loss" analysis type of analysis is utterly useless in this situation....

When it comes to the MVP, it boils down to the first argument is determining the MVP candidates, and then your analysis needs to work from there, and instead of trying to make up your mind of who or why something is going to happen, and then looking for trends to support that opinion, you really need to look at the complete picture and try to judge independently before making a decision to make an argument for.


As it stands, we know who are the real MVP candidates are as of right now(not saying it can't change)

But among position players you are looking at
1. Lorenzo Cain, for a playoff hopeful Brewers, who is leading the league in war, but a significant portion of that is defense based. (his team is currently still in the playoff hunt... and he does have a .300 average)
2. Freedie Freeman, Team is leading the division, it's a surprise team that nobody predicted to win the division,
3. Javier Baez, a good player for a division leading team, but is hampered by the fact that his team was predicted to easily win the division and has several other good teammates---even if they aren't actually producing)
4. Matt Carpenter... a piss poor month, followed by being the best player in the NL by pretty much any metric, helped propel his team into contention, again like Baez has a host of good teamates.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, best player on a playoff team
6. Arenado also a great player on a potential playoff team.

There really isn't a clear story here... the top 6 position players by war are all on potential playoff teams, September is going to separate them... the pitchers as mentioned have their own issues, only one is pitching for a legit contender, while Scherzer is doing what he does... and sadly DeGrom is pitching for the Mets... he'll get votes, but he's not a real candidate sadly... and Freeman is going to get thrown off to the side simply because that is the way the voters do things.

Nola or Scherzer should of course be the MVP (if the vote was held now) but they still have an uphill battle in my opinion.
   33. phredbird Posted: August 25, 2018 at 02:46 PM (#5733603)

carp has not got a hit since going 3 for 5 in the first game of the dodger series.
   34. puck Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5733984)
1 for 3 Saturday, and 4-5 with 4 doubles today.
   35. phredbird Posted: August 28, 2018 at 07:49 PM (#5735127)

yes, i saw, and all i can say is ...

if my debbie downer routine turns out to be wrong, i will be the happiest guy on BTF.

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