Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals, Game 2 NLCS in St. Louis

Matt Carpenter strikes out in the 2019 NLCS against Washington. (Post-Dispatch photo by David Carson)

HUMMEL ON EXPECTATIONS AT THIRD BASE:

Matt Carpenter is playing for his baseball life this season after his career worst fall to .226 and a stay on the bench last season.

But he said this spring, “I’m just one year removed from, arguably, the best season of my career.” Open to interpretation, perhaps, but Carpenter did hit a career-high 36 home runs and had a career-best .897 OPS in 2018.

“If I can hit .270 to .280 and get on base at the clip I know I’m capable of, it would be a huge deal to our team. I know I can do it. I KNOW I can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind,” the 34-year-old Carpenter said.

To do this, Carpenter will have to do a better job of hitting to left field and not into the stifling shifts he faced last season. But, if he wasn’t hitting leadoff — he probably will bat No. 2 — and he had a basestealing threat (Kolten Wong) in front of him, the shifts wouldn’t be as prominent. That could open more territory for Carpenter. “You would think,” he said. 

Carpenter, of course, has heard the naysayers all offseason, not that he needed to. “I’ve got a lot to prove to the fans and my team, but most importantly, to me,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to prove, and I’m looking forward to going out and proving it.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with this team,” he said. “Outside of the things I want to accomplish, I really think we’re going to be good.”

Carpenter says his throwing arm is stronger than it’s been for years and is hopeful it will stay that way so he doesn’t have to shift to first base or second base during the season. His range is adequate. He comes in on the ball well enough, and he actually had a good year defensively last year.

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