RIDING SOLO

Down 2 in the 9th inning, would you rather Matt Carpenter lead off, or be one of the next two up? It’s an easy call, but there’s a misunderstanding that Carp’s success is a function of batting order, rather than–you know–elite skill.

These believers undermine his accomplishments while worshipping a false Rally Squirrel.

The notion exists because Matt Carpenter has had the most success when he is written as the leadoff hitter in the lineup, but his stats as a “leadoff hitter” include many at bats where he was the 3rd, or 4th, or 5th batter of the inning.
Carpenter homered as the 3rd batter of the 9th inning Saturday.
Then he homered as the 2nd batter of the 5th inning Sunday.

Do you believe he takes a different approach to being the 3rd batter of the 3rd inning, with one on & one out, as the “leadoff hitter”…than he would in the same exact situation, but had he been ‘batting sixth’ that night?

In 45 career PAs from the 6th spot, he’s 421/511/632.  That’s better than his “leadoff” slash line, but no one’s clamoring to bat him 6th.

Here are some stats facts via baseball reference’s career stats & splits:

Leading off *any* inning, regardless of batting order (1436 PA)….278/375/478
Every single one of his career plate appearances  (4100)……………..278/379/475

So why do people think that he’s only #comfortable in one spot?

He sure seems comfortable with runners on base (1458)…………….290/396/490
He sure seems comfortable with:
0 outs (1761)………………………………281/375/488
and 1 out (1204)…………………………290/378/467
and 2 out (1135)…………………………259/388/463

If you want him to lead off the game, great.  If he wants to lead off the game, cool. Surely you don’t want him to lead off *every* inning he bats in.
Batting the pitcher in front of him–the 9-hole–will help get you just that.

At the All Star Break. all MLB Pitchers were hitting .113 collectively (providing NL lovers with the “strategy” they crave).

In related news, MLB leadoff hitters come up with the bases empty 36% of the time, where no other spot in the order comes up with no one on <44%.

Sequencing hits together is critical to winning baseball games–more so than totaling more hits than the other team.  And it’s out of Carpenter’s control.

He leads the League in doubles (33) and home runs (29), yet has 60 RBI to show for those 62 XBH.  Carp is 5th in SLG%, but not one of MLB’s top 15 SLGs have fewer RBI than Carpenter.  Approximately 31 of his 29 HRs have been solo.
The Cardinals are last in the NL Central in runs scored.

He sure seems comfortable with:
0 outs, runner on 2nd (50)    310/396/492
1 out, runner on 1st (206)      306/377/552
2 out, runners 1st & 3rd (57)   294/368/471

When he plays RF?…………….(45)     310/356/405
Bats in the 2nd inning?…….(215)    306/419/572
During Inter-League play?…(518)   333/419/624

During the day?………………..(1388)   286/372/513
At night?…………………………….(2712)  274/383/455

Man, this guy is #comfortable in more settings than you’ve been led to believe.

Or maybe he’s just really, really good.

So good that you wouldn’t want to bat a guy that only gets on base 15% of the time right in front of him.

So good that the question I asked you at the very beginning has an obvious answer.

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