During the 2014 regular season, Matt Carpenter hit .272 with 8 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. In the postseason, he hit .278–but with 4 home runs in the nine games played.
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“I took a more of an aggressive approach in the postseason,” acknowledges Carpenter. “Part of that was from the experience that I had gathered the year before. After a long season, going into the playoffs I felt like I wasn’t as prepared as I felt like I could’ve been. It kind of snowballed and my approach and the way I took the regular season at-bat in the postseason it wasn’t playing out well.”
The snowball Carpenter referred to was going 1-19 against Pittsburgh in the NLDS. He then hit a combined .280 (14-50) against Los Angeles and Boston in the rest of the 2013 postseason.
“So, I took a different approach this postseason and I had a lot of success with it,” continued Matt. “It also kind of opened my eyes that you know maybe that’s something over the course of the season could have some benefits as well. Certainly, I’m always going to be a guy who’s patient at the plate, but that was a good learning experience for me–being aggressive. I don’t remember the exact numbers but out of the four home runs I hit, I think three of them were on the first pitch. That’s something typically I don’t do a lot of and it was a good learning experience.”
It’s not just about the power–or even average for Carpenter. His main job as the lead-off hitter was to get on base and that he did with a .375 mark. And whether or not he bats first or second in the lineup, the belief is he can add the aggressiveness without sacrificing his ability to get on base.
“I would like to put myself in that category as well,” said Carpenter in making a comparison with Jason Heyward. “You’ve got two guys, that in my opinion, are on the brink of figuring out what their power threshold is and meanwhile doing a really good job of getting on base at the top of the lineup.”
COACH CARPENTER RECOGNIZED
Over the last couple of seasons, Rick Carpenter has been the proud poppa watching his son Matt excel with the St. Louis Cardinals. But recently, it was Matt that was able to do the bragging as his father was named a National High School Baseball Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.
“I would credit him with the approach that I have as a hitter,” said Matt on the biggest baseball lesson he learned from his father. “When I was a kid, relaying the knowledge of the strike zone. What’s a ball, what’s a strike–coaching me on that as a young kid, something that I wasn’t aware of at the time would be so critical to my development as a professional. I would say that from a baseball stand point, off the field stuff the list would be a lot longer and probably more important. He’s definitely had an impact.”
— Matt Carpenter (@MattCarp13) January 15, 2015
photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports