The bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded and two out, was a pivotal moment in the St. Louis Cardinals’ Monday night’s game against the visiting San Francisco Giants. Cards manager Mike Matheny pulled starting pitcher Jake Westbrook despite the right-hander having thrown only 79 pitches and holding a narrow 3-2 lead.
The rookie began slowly in the pinch-hitting role, as Carpenter was only three for his first 17 before hitting safely twice and walking in his last three pinch-hitting appearances. The left-handed hitter is still a long way from the team’s rookie pinch-hit record of 20, set by Joe Frazier in 1954.
Still, despite the relatively low quantity of hits, Carpenter has made them count with eight pinch runs batted in. An initial report that they are the most by a Cardinals rookie since at least 1950 was later disputed.
With the definition of rookie dependent on both on at-bats (130 or less) and time in the majors (45 or fewer days active prior to 9/1), definitive rookie-only data pulls are challenging.
Given that, researcher Tom Orf prepared the following list of all 40 occurrences of a Cardinals pinch-hitter having at least eight RBI in a season since 1948. At the right is the year of their career and at-bats in prior years (for some), followed by the players’ ages at the time.
In an oddity, Frazier maintained his rookie status for eight years. After being in military service from 1943-45, he appeared in nine games for Cleveland in 1947. Frazier did not return to MLB until 1954. Still a rookie, he had 13 pinch-hit RBI with St. Louis that latter season.
Though Carpenter had 15 St. Louis at-bats last year, he is still a rookie in 2012. In 1962, Fred Whitfield became the only one to make this list by having his pinch-hits in the same season he first came up.
Eight or more pinch-hit RBI, season since 1948, St. Louis Cardinals
|Year||Pinch-hitter||PH RBI||Career Year #||Previous ABs||Age|
It is good for the career of Carpenter, a natural third baseman, for him to excel in the off-the-bench needs. The Cardinals lack experience among their reserves this season and going forward, this role seems to be the 26-year-old’s niche.