Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#44 Matt Carpenter

Yesterday I honored the Super Bowl teams with cards from their baseball counterparts. Today, I’ve got two random members of the two World Series teams. Earlier I had a representative of the World Champion Boston Red Sox in Jonny Gomes and now I’ve got one from the runner-up St. Louis Cardinals.

#44 Matt Carpenter
First impression of what’s going on: I’ll try to do this review without letting my Cubs bias shine through. Pretty standard follow through swing. I can live with the bat being slightly cut off on the left but the crop at the top is too tight. I don’t know enough about the Cardinals jerseys, but it looks like an alternate one to me. I think they're regular ones are whiter for home and grey from away?

 ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 6: Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium on July 6, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Reality of the Photo:  You can see that Topps did go with a pretty tight crop, although the photographer didn't leave much room at the top for them to work with. That being the case, I probably would've opted for a different photo, especially since it is just a generic swing. The caption doesn't lead me to believe that the swing was even a particularly important one so let’s go to the BOXSCORE and see how Carpenter did that day.

Well, the Cardinals won, so there's a start.

Carpenter went 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored. He tripled home pitcher Joe Kelly in the bottom of the third to put the Cardinals on the board and later scored on a Carlos Beltran single. But like I said, there’s nothing in the caption to prove this is anything significant and I’m not sure his posture is that of a triple. Although, if you think you've just hit a home run that turns into a triple…maybe.

His other at bats consisted of a fly ball to center, short fly to left and a ground out to the pitcher. It’s tough to tell with his eye line, as it could be any of those of them except for the last one.

After a little research, I see that the red piping and St.Louis (rather than Cardinals) across the front show that this is an alternate jersey. Combine that with the eye black and a commemorative patch, Carpenter has nice trifecta to help him out, despite a below average photo selection.

Photo from the Cardinals Wikipedia page
On to the back:

Rookie Fact: Matt’s 11 pinch-hits in 2012 were most since 1954 by a Cardinals rookie

I don’t know the statistics behind pinch-hitting but coming off the bench and delivering 11 times, and as a rookie no less, seems pretty impressive to me. I didn't look too hard for the rookie record or for the 1954 Cardinal rookie but the all-time record for pinch hits in a season (not just rookies) is 28 by John Vander Wal in 1995. That doesn't make me think any less of Carpenter, though as that's a lot of trust by a manager to keep throwing a rookie into that situation.

And it certainly didn't hurt him winning the starting second base job for 2013 and again dominating the Majors at the plate. Carpenter’s blurb mentions that he is only the second person to lead the MLB in hits, runs and doubles since 1911. The other? Pete Rose in 1976. Guess he can’t be mentioned on the card though…

In 1911, Ty Cobb did it, and Nap Lajoie in 1901. That is some pretty solid company to keep. Thanks to a Roger Schlueter article for those tidbits.

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: #44
Player Name: Matt Carpenter
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Second Base
Game Date: July 6, 2013
Opponent: Miami Marlins
Stadium: Busch Stadium
Division: National League Central
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 5-4, Cardinals over the Marlins, Win for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: Yes
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Birthdate: 11/26/1985
Birthplace: Texas
Cameos by: N/A
Photographer: Dilip Vishwanat
Niche collections this card could fit into: Eye black, Alternate Jersey, Commemorative Patch, League Leader in Italics, Players Named Matt, Partial Southpaw

My Grade: I've already had a couple of cards I wanted to like but gave only average scores to. This is one I didn't want to like because of the Cardinals affiliation and generic photo but it is going to get a B+ from me. Despite its shortcomings, it racked up on the niche collections and had a solid rookie fact and blurb on the back.

1 comment:

  1. I hate to say it, but I think that's a fair grade. Stupid Cardinals... now they're even doing well in the off season.