As 2013 began, Matt Carpenter was still known by many St. Louis Cardinals observers as the “other” Carpenter. By the end of the season, he cemented his place in the Cardinals lineup and in fans’ hearts. With the retirement of veteran Chris Carpenter this fall, he can now be “Carp” for years to come.
What the now-28-year-old accomplished this past year was nothing short of amazing. While learning a new position, second base, Carpenter participated in a team-best 157 games and played solid defense.
Before long, manager Mike Matheny moved the former TCU star into the leadoff spot in his lineup. From there, Carpenter started 136 games while delivering a high on-base percentage of .398 (compared to his overall mark of .392).
Overall among all major leaguers in 2013, Carpenter finished first in runs (126), hits (199), doubles (55), multi-hit games (63) and tied for most three-hit games (18).
Carpenter was named a National League All-Star and ranked in the following spots among NL leaders: batting average (fifth, .318), on-base percentage (seventh, .392), walks (tied for ninth, 72), extra base hits (third, 73), total bases (third, .301), triples (seventh, seven), singles (fifth, 126) and sacrifice flies (tied for fifth, seven).
Like most of his Cardinals offensive teammates, Carpenter slowed in the post-season. He batted just .237 (15-for-69), including 17 strikeouts and just four extra base hits.
Following the World Series, Carpenter was announced as the fourth-place finisher in the NL Most Valuable Player voting, and was named as high as second on six ballots. He was included on all 30 ballots with 27 of the voters placing him sixth or higher.
Returning to third base defensively in 2014, what can Carpenter accomplish as an encore?
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