Please check out the Projections Primer, to see how I come about getting these projections.
Prior to getting started, I want to take a look at the last three years of Matt Carpenter's career and his total career numbers, showing the statistics that I utilize in my projections.
The 2019 season is our most recent sample size and professional sports are often reduced to a "what have you done for me lately" business. Here is his 2019 season separated from the rest 1) to highlight it and 2) to more easily come back to it for comparison purposes.
492 PA - .226/.334/.392/.726
20 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers
59 runs, 63 RBI, 6 SB, 1 CS
This year, I plan to incorporate a couple of (I hope) interesting items to go along with the mean (average) projection. I am going to be adding in "THE GOOD" (an everything goes right)" projection and "THE BAD” (an everything went wrong)" projection prior to giving THE CERUTTI (my actual projection). THE GOOD is basically if a player is 10% better in a few of the listed categories while THE BAD is basically if a player is 10% worse in a few of the listed categories - based on THE CERUTTI projection, which is my 50th percentile-type projection that gets made every year by other projection services like STEAMER or ZiPS.
660 PA - .265/.393/.494/.887
37 doubles, 2 triples, 28 homers
103 runs, 78 RBI, 5 SB, 1 CS
I don’t see Carpenter arguably having the best year of his career at age 34 this year. This one is too “pie in the sky” for me to believe in. That said, it's not in any way outlandish. This is 2016 or 2018 type numbers here. It's not out of the realm of possibility at all.
545 PA - .217/.330/.404/.734
24 doubles, 1 triple, 18 homers
69 runs, 53 RBI, 4 SB, 1 CS
So this one is confusing to me. It’s only about as bad as last year’s worst case scenario. I could see Carpenter’s worst case being worse than this. I believe that the probability of him having a worst case like this (or worse) is very low, though. He has way too high of a work ethic and batting eye (and pride) to have another season as bad as last year back to back. He'll take a step back and allow Tommy Edman or Brad Miller or someone else to play if he is hitting like this and someone else is playing well.
(my system projection)
600 PA - .241/.362/.449/.811
31 doubles, 2 triples, 23 homers
85 runs, 65 RBI, 4 SB, 1 CS
Matt Carpenter had the first really bad year of his career last year. That is a huge source of pessimism and what drags these projections down to the level they are at. What helps Carpenter is that he has been so good and so consistent the past (closing in on a) decade for the Cardinals. What’s interesting to me is that many people will see these projections as optimistic due to last year’s overall numbers. Remember, in this space we called for a bounce back last year from Fowler and nailed it almost exactly.
The one thing I think that lends more credence to my projection after last year’s struggle is this: After coming back from his injury in August Matt Carpenter was protected a little by playing some starting and some off of the bench. But in that 2 month period, he hit .252/.365/.439/.804 while starting ⅔ of the games in which he played.
THE CERUTTI projection feeds a lot off of him leading off for so long. I could see him hitting 4th or 5th this season (although with a .362 OBP it’d be nice to have him up a bit higher potentially) and thus flip flop his runs and RBI a bit. I fully expect an .800 to .825 OPS this year for Carpenter. Just seems right to me.
Link back to all of my projections.