Matt Carpenter (baseball)
Carpenter in 2012
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 13|
|Third baseman / Second baseman|
November 26, 1985 |
|June 4, 2011, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||267|
|Career highlights and awards|
Matthew Martin Carpenter (born November 26, 1985) is an American professional baseball third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Cardinals selected him in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft from Texas Christian University (TCU). The team called him up to the majors for the first time on June 3, 2011, and he made his MLB debut the following night at Busch Stadium. He has been their primary leadoff hitter since early in the 2013 season.
Carpenter has also appeared at first base, second base, right field, and left field. A three-time second-team All Mountain West Conference selectee, he broke TCU's school record for games played and at bats and is second in hits, doubles and walks. He was the Cardinals' organization Player of the Year in 2010. A two-time MLB All-Star Game selection, he became the first Silver Slugger Award winner at second base in Cardinals franchise history after leading the major leagues in hits, runs scored and doubles in 2013. He is signed through 2019 with an option for 2020.
Carpenter was born in Galveston, Texas on November 26, 1985, the son to Rick and Tammie Carpenter. The elder Carpenter is a former college baseball player turned high school coach. His mother played softball in her youth. The Carpenter family spent seven years in La Marque, Texas, where Rick Carpenter taught and coached at La Marque High School before moving to Lawrence E. Elkins High School. There, Rick coached for another fifteen years. That baseball team won numerous championships, including nine at the district level, six regional, three state, and one national. He also coached three other major leaguers: James Loney, Kip Wells and Chad Huffman. The elder Carpenter now coaches at Prosper High School near Dallas. Carpenter's brother, Tyler, was a minor league baseball player in the New York Mets organization.
At Elkins High School, Carpenter was a three-year first-team all-district performer and two-time all-state tournament team selection. He helped lead the team to a 35–1 record and the USA Today National Prep Championship in 2002, and was named the District Sophomore of the Year that year. Rick Carpenter was honored as the USA Today High School Baseball Coach of the Year. Matt Carpenter was named a 2004 TPX second-team High School All-American. He holds the Elkins High School record for most career hits. One of his high school teammates was Loney.
Carpenter attended Texas Christian University (TCU) and majored in communications. In his freshman year as an athlete, Carpenter played 50 games and finished with a .289 batting average with 27 runs batted in (RBI), eight doubles (2B) and one home run (HR) with 11 multi-hit games and eight multiple-RBI games. The next season, he finished second on the team with a .349 average, one home run and 36 RBIs in 62 games. He also hit safely in 47 games and reached base in 56.
However, Carpenter's junior season was cut short after eight games due to a tearing a ligament in his elbow while throwing from first base. The repair required Tommy John surgery, making him the first TCU position player to undergo the procedure much more common for pitchers. As a result, he was granted a two-year medical redshirt (RS). Because his weight increased to 240 pounds (110 kg) and he was rehabilitating elbow at an age more advanced than most players who are drafted, doubt lingered about Carpenter's future as a professional baseball player. While he was very disciplined as a player, his discipline off the field was poor, including his grades and physical conditioning, which contributed to his high weight. Carpenter attributed a speech – as well as personal motivation – from head coach Jim Schlossnagle that conduced him to change his habits off the field. Thus, he applied the same dedication off the field as he did on the field. As a result, Carpenter lost 40 pounds (18 kg).
While Carpenter was still rehabilitating during his junior year, Major League Baseball outfielder Torii Hunter moved to Prosper, Texas, the same high school district where Rick Carpenter coached baseball. Hunter introduced himself to Carpenter because his son, Torii, Jr., would attend and play baseball there. The elder Hunter also met Matt Carpenter, who he eventually invited to train at the same gymnasium where he trained. It was an expensive facility, and, at this point, Carpenter was still in the minor leagues and could not afford to pay for a membership. However, Hunter covered the fees because he believed that Carpenter would take full advantage of the opportunity to train.
In Carpenter's RS-junior season, he played in all 63 games and was named second-team all-conference at third base. He finished with a .283 batting average, team-high 11 HR and 46 RBI and ranked third on the team with 48 runs scored. His fifth-year senior season included a .333 batting average, .472 on-base percentage (OBP) and .662 SLG with 11 HR. Along with Carpenter's increased performance, TCU's overall strong effort nearly led to a College World Series appearance. During his collegiate career, Carpenter broke school career records for games played (241) and at-bats (843), and finished second in hits (263), doubles (57) and walks (BB, with 150). He was named second-team All Mountain West Conference in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Professional career (2009–present)
Draft and minor leagues (2009–11)
The St. Louis Cardinals selected Carpenter in the 13th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Due to advanced age stemming from his RS season, he had little leverage in negotiations, so he settled for a $1,000 bonus. He spent his first professional season with various A-level teams, including the Batavia Muckdogs, Quad Cities River Bandits, and the Palm Beach Cardinals. Between the three clubs, he batted .283 with hitting two home runs and 22 RBI. Carpenter spent his first 28 games of 2010 with Palm Beach, again hitting .283. He also drew 26 BB, placing his OBP at .441.
This resulted in a call-up to the Springfield Cardinals, where he played another 105 games in 2010. With Springfield, he batted .316 with 76 runs scored, 26 doubles, 12 HR, 53 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. He was chosen as a Topps' Double-A All-Star, Texas Mid-Season All-Star, and Texas Post-Season All-Star for his 2010 season. Carpenter also garnered the TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year and Cardinals organization Player of the Year awards for 2010.
After his 2010 performance, Carpenter started to garner attention, and was expected to compete for one of the MLB Cardinals final roster openings the next spring training. Despite batting .333 with a .414 OBP and six extra base hits in spring training, he started the 2011 season in the minor leagues. He spent 130 total games with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds of Pacific Coast League (PCL), batting .300 with 12 HR, 70 RBI, 84 BB, a .417 OBP and .483 slugging percentage (SLG). His .417 OBP placed fourth in the PCL. His first four years in the minor league included a .408 OBP.
St. Louis Cardinals (2011-present)
Carpenter made his Major League debut on June 4, 2011, starting at third base and batting seventh. During his brief stint in the Majors that year, he played seven games, collecting one double, a .067 batting average and four walks. The Cardinals qualified for the postseason by clinching the wild card, but left him off the postseason roster. St. Louis became the World Series champions when they defeated the Texas Rangers. In spite of his scant contributions to winning the Series, the Cardinals awarded Carpenter a championship ring.
After the 2011 season, the departures of Albert Pujols and Nick Punto – along with an injury to Allen Craig – opened up an opportunity for Carpenter to make the major league club. During the following spring training, he worked at first base and in the outfield to increase his versatility, where he served as a backup and spot starter in 2012 season. He made an early-season impact against the Chicago Cubs on April 15, driving in five runs with a home run and triple as the Cardinals won, 10–3.
Incurring a right flank strain on May 23, the team placed Carpenter on the disabled list (DL). The injury happened while swinging the bat for a double. At the time, he was batting .288 with three home runs and 20 RBI in 39 games while filling in at first base for the injured Lance Berkman. In July, he made his first appearance at second base since turning professional. He played in 114 games for the season, tallying 340 plate appearances and batting .294 with six home runs, 46 RBI, 22 doubles, a .365 OBP and .463 SLG.
Carpenter hit his first career postseason home run on October 17, 2012, during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the San Francisco Giants. The two-run home run came with two out in the bottom of the third inning off Giants starter Matt Cain. Carpenter was inserted into the game from the bench to replace an injured Carlos Beltrán in the second inning.
His parents and wife were on hand to see the career milestone, having driven through the night from Texas to be at Busch Stadium for the game. After a lengthy rain delay, the Cardinals won the game 3–1 to take a two-game-to-one series lead in the NLCS. However, the Giants won the NLCS in seven games on their way to becoming the World Series champions.
Uncertain of where the club would find adequate offensive production from second base, the Cardinals advised Carpenter to work out there in the off-season prior to 2013. Considering that he had played mainly third base and had totaled just 18 total innings at second since the Cardinals drafted him – all during the 2012 season after his major league call-up – it was a bold move. After his tryout in spring training, he made the team as the starting second baseman.
With Rafael Furcal out for the season due to injury, and Jon Jay starting the season slowly, the Cardinals clamored for productivity from their leadoff hitters. Manager Mike Matheny moved Carpenter into the leadoff spot midway through April in spite of him lacking the speed sought after for that post in the lineup. He responded by proving to be an all-around hitter, gaining his first All-Star selection at Citi Field with 25 doubles, 65 runs scored, and two 12-game hitting streaks at the All-Star break.
With his 54th double on September 21, Carpenter broke Stan Musial's six decade-old franchise record for doubles (Musial's 53 came in 1953) by a left-handed batter. He finished the season leading the Major Leagues in hits (199), doubles (55), and runs (126), while batting .318. He also finished in the top ten in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage (.392), total bases (301), singles (126), triples (seven), walks (72), and adjusted OPS (143), among others. Among NL leadoff hitters, he finished second in OBP to Shin-Soo Choo's .423.
Despite his stellar regular season, Carpenter batted only .203 in the postseason. Against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS, he started slowly, managing just one hit in 19 at-bats (.053). He improved his batting average to .261 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. In the fourth inning of Game 6, Carpenter faced Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and lined a double to right field to end an 11-pitch at bat and ignite a four-run outburst. They eventually won, 9–0, securing a trip to the World Series. Carpenter batted .296 in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. However, in the ninth inning in Game 6 against Boston closer Koji Uehara, he struck out for the final out of the series and season, resulting in the Cardinals' elimination from the final round of the postseason.
The following November, in earning his first Silver Slugger Award, Carpenter also became the first winner at second base in Cardinals history. He finished fourth in the NL Most Valuable Player Award balloting. He was also selected as the team finalist for Heart & Hustle Award; Boston's Dustin Pedroia was the winner. The club then signed Carpenter to a six-year, $52 million extension to run through 2019 on March 6, 2014. Included was an option for 2020 worth $18.5 million. General manager John Mozeliak cited his work ethic as another factor in the extension.
With second base prospect Kolten Wong viewed as major league-ready, Carpenter moved back to his customary position of third base in 2014. He continued as the Cardinals leadoff hitter. He started the season slowly, batting .264 in April with three doubles and one home run. His productivity returned in May, when he batted .307 with 10 doubles. However, on May 15, his batting average had dropped to .256 with a .315 SLG. From May 18 to June 1, he hit safely in 14 consecutive games and collected a combined 24 hits in 60 at-bats for a .400 batting average.
In a June 4 matchup against the Kansas City Royals, Carpenter raked five hits in five at-bats to raise his batting average to a season-high .307. His double in the eleventh inning provided the game-winning RBI in a 5–2 victory. It was the first five-hit game for the Cardinals since Ryan Ludwick's on September 4, 2009. Carpenter finished that game having reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances. The five hits brought him into a tie for the NL lead in hits (73), and to that point, he led NL leadoff hitters in runs (40) and BB (33). After first-half results through July 6 including a .282 batting average, four HR, 32 RBI, and a .375 OBP, he was selected to his second All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For the season, Carpenter batted .271 with a .375 OBP, .375 SLG, 33 doubles, eight HR, 59 RBI, 99 runs scored and 95 walks in 158 games. He finished third in the NL in runs scored and eighth in OBP, and led the league in walks. His average of 4.36 pitches per plate appearance was far above the MLB average of 3.82. According to a computerized tracking system, he also led the league in pitches taken that were erroneously pronounced strikes. In spite of the significant drop in batting average from the season before, his increased walk total helped him produce an OBP of no less than .362 in each month of 2014.
In the NLDS against the Dodgers, the Cardinals again faced Kershaw in Game 1. Carpenter's home run against him in the sixth inning stopped a string a of 14 consecutive batters the lefty ace had retired. In the following at-bat opposing Kershaw in the seventh inning, he found himself in an 0–2 count, but battled eight pitches for a bases-clearing double that gave the Cardinals a 7–6 lead. The Cardinals eventually won 10–9.
In Game 2, Capenter's second home run of the series tied the game late, but the Dodgers prevailed 3–2. In the first three games of the Cardinals-Dodgers playoff, Carpenter knocked in seven runs with two doubles, two solo homers, and a two-run homer. By hitting a home run and a double in each of the first three games of the NLDS, he became the first player to do so in the postseason. Between the NLDS and NLCS against the Giants, Carpenter hit safely ten times in 26 at bats with four home runs, four doubles, and eight RBI.
Showing great initial success in early at-bats in 2015, Carpenter's first home run was also a game-winner. Deciding a 7–5 margin, the HR occurred in the 11th inning of the April 12 contest against Cincinnati. During the Cardinals' first homestand of the season, he doubled four times in a six at-bat span on April 17–18 against the Reds. Also on April 17, he scored a run when he somersaulted over catcher Brayan Peña; traditionally runners attempted to score on a direct collision with the catcher.
Including his fifth career leadoff home run against Cincinnati on April 19, Carpenter recorded his seventh straight two-hit game. Also the seventh consecutive game with an extra base hit, it was just the 37th occasion in the previous century in which a Cardinal achieved this feat. Further, the seven consecutive multi-hit games with at least one extra base hit in each tied the Cardinals' franchise record which Ripper Collins originally set in 1935. That same streak was the longest in the Major Leagues since Paul Molitor achieved the same as a member of the Brewers in 1991. From April 12–19, Carpenter netted a .480 average, .880 SLG, seven doubles, one HR, and five RBI. His 22 total bases led the NL. MLB subsequently named him to his first NL Player of the Week Award for that period. Carpenter continued his extra-base hit surge. He ripped his second leadoff HR of the season against Washington on April 22, and, the next day, lined the first pitch of the game off Max Scherzer for a double.
Matheny moved Carpenter to the number two spot in the batting order in late April. He continued a strong hitting effort. His second game-winner of the season was a sacrifice fly against Pittsburgh on May 2, giving the Cardinals a walk-off 2–1 win in the 11th inning. He left early the next day due to lightheadedness. On May 6 against the Chicago Cubs, his three-run home run tied the score as St. Louis triumphed, 7–4. It was a four-RBI game, giving him 20 in his team's first 26 games.
He was withheld from a weekend series against Pittsburgh May 8–10 due to "extreme fatigue," after team physicians diagnosed dehydration and an accelerated heart rate. On May 24 against the Royals, his eighth home run off Yordano Ventura matched his previous season's total. It was also Carpenter's 500th career hit and 300th career run scored. In the month of June, he batted .190 with four doubles, no home runs and 10 RBI.
After being moved down in the order, Carpenter then endured a three-month slump in which he batted .216. He returned to the lead off position on July 30 for his first career multi-home run game. He also had four hits, four runs scored and four RBI, and was instrumental in a 9–8 home walk-off victory over the Colorado Rockies. Carpenter's ground rule double in the bottom of the ninth started the decisive rally. He hit five home runs from July 30 to August 5. In August, Baseball America rated Carpenter as having the third-best strike zone judgment in the NL. Carpenter reached 20 home runs for the first time in his career on August 30 in a 7–5 win over the Giants. He led the National League in doubles (44) for a second time, and the Cardinals in home runs (28) and RBI (84). He also finished in the top ten in the National League in slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, runs scored, total bases, walks, home runs and strikeouts. During his time batting second, he batted .225 with six home runs and 33 RBI. As the leadoff hitter, he batted .322 with 22 HR, 50 RBI and a 1.022 OPS.
Accolades and awards
- Major Leagues
- Baseball America National League "Best Strike Zone Judgment" (2015 – 3rd)
- 2× Major League Baseball All-Star (2013, 2014)
- National League Silver Slugger Award at second base (2013)
- National League Player of the Week Award (April 19, 2015).
- Minor Leagues
- St. Louis Cardinals organization Player of the Year (2010)
- 2× Texas League All-Star (2010 mid-season, 2010 post-season)
- 2× Texas League Player of the Week (July 19–25, August 2–10, 2010)
- Topps' Double-A All-Star (2010)
- 2× The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top Cardinals Prospect (2012, #11; 2011, #6)
- TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year: 2010
- TCN/Scout.com Springfield Cardinals Player of the Year: 2010
- Statistical achievements
Note: Per Baseball-Reference.com
Bold: National League leader, †: MLB leader
|Category||# of Times||Dates|
|National League top-ten batting leader|
|At bats||2||2013, 2014|
|Adjusted OPS||2||2013, 2015|
|Bases on balls||3 (1)||2013, 2014, 2015|
|Doubles||2 (2)||2013,† 2015|
|Games played||2||2013, 2014|
|On-base percentage||2||2013, 2014|
|On-base plus slugging||1||2015|
|Runs scored||3 (1)||2013†, 2014, 2015|
|Plate appearances||2||2013, 2014|
|Times on base||3||2013–15|
|Total bases||2||2013, 2015|
When he was in high school, Matt Carpenter was given a framed poster of Lance Berkman, his childhood hero and teammate from 2011–12. The poster was a gift from his now-wife, Mackenzie (Detmore) Carpenter. The couple were married on December 10, 2011. Carpenter's former TCU teammate, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, was a groomsman.
Known for being one of the few major leaguers to not wear batting gloves during games, Carpenter has stated that he has not worn them in organized baseball. Just one game stood out as an exception. While playing for TCU, the team traveled to Colorado for a game against Air Force. Carpenter stated that he was colder than usual. His right palm has shown the effects of not wearing them, with many cuts and calluses.
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MVP hopeful pairs Gold Glove with offensive honor; second baseman rewarded
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Matt Carpenter (baseball).|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- TCU Horned Frogs bio