David Freese is down with a broken hand it took just moments for people to wonder whether Matt Carpenter would be or could be a viable replacement. Take a cold shower guys, there’s two good reasons not to expect this.
The first is that Matt Carpenter’s performance so far has been good but not particularly great. After an atrociously slow start, Carpenter has a .794 OPS featuring a .402 OBP. He’s working his typical plate discipline magic walking in over 14% of his plate appearances. I’ve made many remarks on his astoundingly good plate discipline and knowledge of the strikezone so the point here isn’t that his skillset won’t play up. I think it will.
A .794 OPS, even an OBP heavy one is not that far off the average mark for Memphis’s run environment. Fangraphs has a stat labeled wRC+. This statistic park adjusts and league adjusts to allow for comparisons of offensive output among AAA players. It’s a linear weights based stat whose core is a version of Tom Tango’s wOBA. That is to say it’s a very accurate measure of the relative offensive output of a player. Right now, Matt Carpenter has a 106 wRC+ meaning he’s playing a little better than average (100 is average). That’s good but it isn’t anything that screams “Call Up.”
The other reason you’re unlikely to see a Matt Carpenter call up is that he’s not on the 40-man roster. To add to that, the 40-man roster is full. There are a couple players that could get dropped but the club may not be willing to do that. If a starter lands on the 15-day disabled list, who gets the spot start? Unless you want a bullpen game, it’s probably PJ Walters. David Kopp was just added to the 40-man roster this offseason and remains on the DL. To place Adam Reifer on the 60-day DL essentially requires the Cardinals to pay him a major league salary and, more detrimentally, start his service time.
Those are the most likely candidates to bump off but it’s hard to see any of them being removed from the 40-man roster right now. The Cardinals also have a plethora of utility style guys to move about the infield (Tyler Greene, Nick Punto, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Theriot, Skip Schumaker [DL]) already on the roster. Isn’t this the express purpose of their inclusion? As a short term stop-gap if a starter goes down.
Matt Carpenter makes a lot of sense for this team if he continues to get on base at such an impressive rate. He just doesn’t make a lot of sense for the major league ball club right now.