The St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates will square off in what is sure to be an exciting series in the NLDS. These two teams are very evenly-matched, as evident by the 10-9 regular season series record barely edged out by the Pirates. That said, I think the difference-maker in this series that will put the Cardinals over the top is Matt Carpenter.
In his first full season as a starting everyday second baseman, Carpenter has exceeded expectations. He hit .318 with 11 home runs and 78 RBIs. He also scored 126 runs, had 199 hits and had a .392 on-base percentage.
He spent the majority of this season as the leadoff hitter and hit .323 in those situations, and that is why he will be the difference-maker for the Cardinals in this series.
His job will be to use that .398 OBP out of the leadoff spot and simply get on base. He needs to set the table for this lineup and get on because the Cardinals have a ton of experienced guys that will be able to drive him in such as Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.
Carpenter’s 126 runs scored were 17 more than anyone in all of MLB. The Cardinals’ success hinged on Carpenter getting on base because when he did, he usually crossed home plate with a run. If Carpenter can continue to be productive out of that leadoff spot, it should be enough of a boost to help them win this series.