It’s been a good two days for Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. Shoot, it’s been a good month. Or couple of months.
On May 24th, Carp, the former TCU Horned Frog baseball standout, was hitting sub-.500. Since then, he has raised his average to .275, and it’s climbing like wild vines since the All-Star break. Over his last 16 at-bats, Carpenter has nine hits, six of them out of the ballpark, knocking in 10 runs and scoring seven of his own. On Friday, Carp had a record-breaking day against the Cubs, going 5-5 with three home runs and two doubles, raising his average 11 points and tying a major-lead record for extra base hits in a game - and he did so despite being pulled after just six innings of play. The 16 total bases is a Cardinal’s record and just two shy of the Major League single-game record of 18, set by Josh Hamilton with the Rangers in 2012. He also tied the record for lead-off home runs with the Cardinals at 21, set by Hall of Famer Lou Brock.
Cardinals slugger Matt Carpenter set multiple records with a practically flawless day at the plate.https://t.co/dQU9l6x1vB— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) July 20, 2018
Even the great Tim Kurkjian was impressed:
More on Matt Carpenter’s 5-hit, 3-HR, 7-RBI game Friday. The great Edgar Martinez never had a 5-hit game, David Ortiz, Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield never had a 3-HR game and the greatest, Hank Aaron, never had a 7-RBI game, confirmed by @EliasSports #seamheadsaturday— Tim Kurkjian (@Kurkjian_ESPN) July 21, 2018
On Saturday, he extended his home run streak to five straight games by going long in his second at-bat of the day. The Cardinals’ single season home run streak is five games, though Mark McGwire went deep in six straight over two seasons. The first baseman finished the day 1-3 with two walks.
UPDATE: Go ahead and make that a home run in six straight games, as Carpenter launched one deep as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of the second half of the double-header. He now owns, outright, the streak for consecutive games with a home run by a St. Louis Cardinal, and is just two game shy of tying the Major League record of eight, shared between Ken Griffey, Jr and Don Mattingly. Carp’s last 12 hits have been of the extra-base variety.
Carp, who was rumored in trade talks just a few weeks ago, is now making a case to be the best lead-off hitter in baseball. With the highest OPS (1.174) and SLG (.738) percentages in MLB since mid-May, it’s safe to say he is firmly off the trade block now. He also leads the league in doubles, (24), extra-base hits (45), and runs (51) over that time period.
Needless to say, his former college coach has been impressed, too.
Carpenter was a TCU great, but wasn’t expected to be a Big League star. From Stefan Stevenson’s Power-Index profile earlier this summer:
Carpenter’s path to the big leagues wasn’t easy. He was taken in the 13th round of the ‘09 draft after being named the organizations minor league player of the year in 2010, made his major league debut in 2011. He became an every day player in 2012 and an All-Star in 2013 while leading the Cardinals to the World Series.
At TCU, he had a career batting average of .312 and remains in the top five of games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, walks and runs scored. Carpenter hit a then-record 23 doubles as a senior in 2009 while helping the Frogs reach their first NCAA Super Regional. He still calls Fort Worth home in the off-season and remains a devoted Horned Frog.
Carpenter and the Cardinals play two Saturday, with game two being broadcast on FOX. The series concludes Sunday at 1:20pm.