In 2018, Matt Carpenter had a rough 6 weeks, followed by some of the finest offensive output of my lifetime through the end of August, followed by a miserable September. He’s got to be looking for a bit more consistency through the colder months in 2019. Part of that will be that he will (ideally, if everyone stays healthy) be the everyday 3rd baseman and have consistency in that regard. He also will be written strongly in pencil in the leadoff spot to start the season rather than being bounced, again, finding consistency in that regard.
From 2014-2018, leadoff hitters league-wide hit:
From 2014-2018, players playing third base in the field, league-wide, hit:
Since Carpenter will be a lead-off hitting third baseman, those comparisons are apt. They are not anything close to what I believe Carpenter will do. As in the last 5 years or so, Carpenter will be much better than that by my projections.
632 plate appearances
96 runs, 37 doubles, 2 triples, 27 homers, 73 RBI
21.2% K rate, 15.5% BB rate, 3 SB, 1 CS
What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?" As you can see, my projection system very much likes Carpenter over either the leadoff line or the third base line - by quite a bit. That makes sense. If you sort by wRC+ for all active players from 2012-2018 (Carpenter’s 7 full seasons in the majors) Carpenter is tied for the 17th best hitter in all of baseball (top 10%). He has the 10th highest OBP of the 200 qualified players in that same time frame (top 5%). He has the 9th highest BB rate (top 5%). He has the 60th highest ISO (top 30%).
In the last 4 years, Carpenter’s statcast data has three times placed him in the top 9% of the league in expected SLG, once in the top 4% of barreled balls, and three times in the top 7% of xwOBA. Basically, in the last 4 years Carpenter has been top 10% in baseball by nearly all major categories.
How/If things go wrong:
So how could this projection be very, very wrong? Carpenter started off with 6 bad weeks last year and ended with 4. What if those prolonged stretches are longer this year? What if playing third base full-time this year takes too much of a toll on his body? A lot can go wrong with a guy who is now entering his age 33 season.