Matt Carpenter: Expect Regression for Cards Infielder in 2014


Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Any time you have a second baseman score 126 runs people take notice. Matt Carpenter scored runs at a prolific rate last season. Batting leadoff for the top run scoring team in the National League is a good job to have.

Carpenter will undergo a position change, moving from second to his natural position of third base for the upcoming season. He should have dual eligibility in some leagues.

As a lead-off hitter, Carpenter ranked second in on-base percentage, first in slugging, first in runs, first in RBIs, first in extra-base hits and first in total bases. He is one of those players that is more valuable for the St. Louis Cardinals than he is as a fantasy player. A lot of you will disagree, especially if he helped your team last season.

Matt Carpenter led the National League in extra base hits with 63 last season. A contributing factor to his success is his line drive rate. He had a scorching 27.3% line drive rate that ranked second in the National League. Heading into 2014, that’s not a sustainable rate. This is one of the big reasons I believe his run production falls back to a more normal range in the 80 to 95 run area.

His ISO of .163 is incredibly low for someone who managed to produce as many runs as he did last season. One of the main reasons for his run scoring success is his Z% contact rate. It was an excellent 95%. This is the percentage of balls that he made contact with inside the strike zone. He ranked 4th in the National League in Z% contact rate. He is extremely selective about what he can and cannot make contact with.

I want to be up front with you and tell you don’t expect him to score at that type of pace in 2014. His BABIP of .359 tells me he had some balls hit that were just out of the reach of defenders gloves. There was some luck involved in the amount of times he reached base.

He is a great contact hitter who consistently puts the ball in play. He hit .318 last season and he should be able to hit above .300 in 2014. Don’t expect a sudden power surge, as he should struggle to put up anything over the 11 homeruns he hit last season. His running ability is almost nonexistent on the base paths so there is no real value there.

I believe Matt Carpenter is going to be extremely overvalued going into the 2014 season. There will be many owners who draft him expecting him to put up run totals similar to what we saw in 2013. He will not come close to those totals.

As he moves over to third base, he will be even more overrated when you compare his numbers to players with much more power production and potential.

I would stay very far away from Matt Carpenter on draft day unless he falls several rounds below his average draft position.