Matt Carpenter thrives in leadoff role for the Cards
MAY 29, 2013 3:26p ET
Jay himself had appeared in the leadoff spot for close to 90 at-bats during the season. But Carpenter — who had shifted around in the order — had just logged his eighth consecutive game as the Cardinals' first bat. During that stretch, the Cardinals had gone 6-2, and Carpenter had compiled a .303 batting average, .410 on-base percentage and .364 slugging percentage. He had 10 hits, six walks and five runs in 33 at-bats.
"He's been doing a real good job for us," Jay said. "That's kind of made our offense go. We need him to continue to do what he is doing up there for us to be successful as an offense."
Carpenter has continued, and the Cardinals have continued to win. St. Louis enters Wednesday's game against Kansas City with the best record in baseball (34-17), and without a doubt about who belongs on top of the lineup card.
Against the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday, Carpenter went 2 for 3 with a single, a walk, a home run and two runs scored. The Cardinals improved to 17-6 in Carpenter's 23 games at leadoff since May 2. His averages during that stretch have improved to .337/.440/.435.
Including the scattered leadoff appearances he made earlier in the year, Carpenter has a season leadoff batting average of .322, which is first in the National League. His 20 walks, .420 on-base percentage and 4.18 pitches per plate appearance all rank second.
Meanwhile, Jay has performed in non-leadoff roles. He usually hits sixth or seventh, but has also been used in the second and nine holes as well. In 70 at-bats since his last appearance as a leadoff hitter, he's batting .271/.333/.357 with 19 hits, 10 runs and nine RBIs.
Carpenter can't match Jay's speed. But when comparing the two as leadoff hitters, Carpenter gets on base more, requires pitchers to throw more and earns walks more than twice as often.
He has earned the spot, and the Cardinals are better for it.
Even according to Jay.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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