Feldman: Matt Carpenter officially gets the recognition he deserves
By Dan Mueller
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 6: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI triple against the Miami Marlins in the third inning at Busch Stadium on July 6, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat
HOUSTON - JUNE 26: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals flies out to end the game as Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros watches at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) By Bob Levey
(BaseballStL) - Not bad for a 13th round pick in 2009, huh? Especially one who was a 5th year senior at TCU at the time he was drafted. I've said it before and I'll say it a hundred more times. Matt Carpenter epitomizes what the St. Louis Cardinals are all about.
Grit. Work ethic. Dedication. Making the most of whatever talent you have. Versatility. And, really, just being a good person while doing it all.
You don't think it would have been possible for Carpenter to see the traffic ahead of him on the depth chart at third base with David Freese and Zack Cox a few years back and let that affect him? You don't think it would have been possible for him to give it, oh, just a measly 99% effort instead of the full 100?
As it turns out, good things come to those who work hard. Matt Carpenter, just a couple years removed from being in AAA, is headed to the All Star game for the very first time. He lost out, barely, to Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips for the starting gig at second base but was put on roster as a reserve by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will lead the NL squad.
Carpenter's numbers this season are simply terrific. In 82 games, he's received 332 at-bats (on pace for a whopping 625) and has a .319 batting average, .391 on-base percentage to go along with an underrated .882 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Carpenter also leads the National League with 65 runs scored.
To make the Major Leagues is an achievement in itself. To become an everyday starter is even cooler. To put up big numbers is remarkable. But to have your own peers (the other players in the NL chose him) select you for the All Star game is another feeling altogether. More than anything, it's validation of all the work you've put in over the course of your career.
It tells you that you belong among the best.
Carpenter's father was a coach so he grew up around the game. He grew up learning not only the right way to play but the right way to prepare and the right way to work. He developed habits at such a young age that they are ingrained in his head. The right habits. The ones that make him the hardest worker on the team who also happens to be able to play multiple positions now.
How high is the potential for someone like Matt Carpenter? That's a great question because so far he's blown away all expectations put upon him lately. Just when you think he's a utility player, he shows he's a starter. Then when you think he's a league average starter, he shows he's an All Star.
Can he be a perennial All Star selection and part of the foundation of this team for years to come? I wouldn't be the one to bet against him.