I’m not entirely sure what Matt Carpenter has done to get as much criticism as he does. But for some reason all across social media, “Trade Matt Carpenter” is still a thing. I have no idea why. Some people just can’t stand the thought of Carpenter being moved over to third base if a Paul Goldschmidt trade happened to work out. So fans clamour for the Cardinals to trade the slugger. But who do they suggest to replace him?
At least when the conversations involved Josh Donaldson, you were actually looking to upgrade third base. But if the Cardinals picked up Seager or Moustakas along with Goldschmidt, neither should start over Carpenter at third base. Matt Carpenter has been incredibly underappreciated during his time with the Cardinals. How much so? Well I’m glad you asked.
Since his first full season in 2012, Carpenter has been one of the most productive players in all of baseball. According to Fangraphs there are 420 qualified hitters during this time. Where does Carpenter fall in the ranks? Where do Seager and Moustakas rank?
Carpenter: 16th in MLB (28.7 WAR) Top 3.8%
Seager: 17th in MLB (27.2 WAR) Top 4%
Moustakas: 102nd in MLB (13.0 WAR) Top 24.3%
Now, I’ll be completely honest. I do like Kyle Seager as a player. What helps a case for Seager is that defensively, he is definitely an upgrade over Carpenter. He’s actually one of the more productive defenders at third base during this stretch. But as well continue, you’ll see on the offensive side of things is where we find a huge gap. For Moustakas, he is actually tied with Aaron Judge with 13.0 WAR despite Judge having about 2300 less at bats. That’s not a knock on Moustakas as much as it is complimenting Aaron Judge. Kid can rake. Anyway, moving on.
Carpenter: 24th in MLB (133 WRC+) Top 5.7%
Seager: 87th in MLB (113 WRC+) Top 20.7%
Moustakas: 236th in MLB (99 WRC+) Top 56.1 %
Here we see more of a gap between our players. Carpenter still ranks in the top 25 in all of baseball, while Seager and Moustakas both slip in production. Seager and Moustakas rely on their defense, but over their careers Seager has shown to be a better hitter. Moustakas has benefited from a few good years recently, but his first couple seasons still drag down his career numbers.
Off (Offensive Runs Above Average)
Carpenter: 11th in MLB (172.4 Off) Top 2.6%
Seager: 60th in MLB (62.9 Off) Top 14.3%
Moustakas: 301st in MLB (-19.0 Off) Top 71.6%
Once again, Carp is near the top. I was honestly surprised at how far down the list Moustakas was in this category. Seager still held his own from an Off rating.
BB% and K%
Carpenter: BB% – 15th in MLB (13.4%) Top 3.6%
Seager: BB% – 181st in MLB (8.3%) Top 43%
Moustakas: BB% – 293rd in MLB (6.3%) Top 69.7
Carp knows how to work a count, so it should be no surprise that he is one of the best in baseball in terms of walk rate. Seager and Moustakas could sure learn a thing or two from Carpenter in that regard.
Moustakas: K% – 90th in MLB (15.8%) Top 21.4%
Seager: K% – 138th in MLB (17.3%) Top 32.9%
Carpenter: K% – 175th in MLB (18.9%) Top 41.7 %
It just goes to show that you can strikeout and still be a productive hitter. By far the least productive hitter in the group actually holds the best strikeout rate. But a positive thing for all players is that they are in the top half of all qualified hitters.
Def (Fielding Runs + Positional Adjustment)
Kyle Seager: 36th in MLB (43.6 Def) Top 8.7%
Mike Moustakas: 83rd in MLB (26.2 Def) Top 19.8%
Matt Carpenter: 350th in MLB (-33.1 Def) Top 83.3%
Matt Carpenter isn’t the best defender. This backs that up immensely. Considering how good Seager is on defense, Carp still owns a higher WAR. That’s how good he is as a hitter. If only he was solid on defense.
Carpenter is consistently near the top in offensive metrics for all of baseball. Granted his defense certainly makes things interesting, but that shouldn’t detract from him as a hitter. He’s one of the top 25 hitters in baseball, but he certainly isn’t treated that way. Which is a shame.
Matt Carpenter is one of the most underappreciated player in baseball. He has done a lot for the Cardinals organization and I wish he was respected more from the Cardinals fanbase.
What are your thoughts?
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Thanks for reading’