Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making the Case for Chris Carpenter for World Series MVP

First and foremost, congratulations to David Freese on being the World Series MVP. He deserved it. He earned it. He is now a heroic and iconic figure in Cardinal Nation and St. Louis alike. I just feel like there's a lesser-discussed candidate that everybody is overlooking: Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter's World Series line: 2-0, 19 IP (3 starts), 6 ER // 2.84 ERA

Breakdown of other starts by Cardinals pitchers in the World Series:
Jaime Garcia: 10 IP (2 starts), 2 ER // 1.80 ERA
Kyle Lohse: 3 IP, 3 ER // 9.0 ERA
Edwin Jackson: 5 1/3 IP, 3 ER // 5.06 ERA
Combined: 18 1/3 IP, 3.93 ERA

The stats are rather misleading, at least superficially. Garcia and Lohse combined account for two starts in which they didn't record an out beyond the 3rd inning, continuing the trend of wearing out the bullpen like they had since the NLCS. Even someone with rudimentary knowledge of baseball should be able to understand the compounding ramifications that arise from starters inability to go deep into games. Carpenter never pitched less than 6 innings in any World Series start, even when started on short rest. I understand the case for David Freese, but Carpenter is the de facto MVP in my book.

David Freese had an incredible postseason -- one of the best in MLB history -- there's no denying that. He set the record for most RBI's in a postseason (21), surpassing records previously set by David Ortiz and Sandy Alomar, Jr (19). As in any case, we are talking about the World Series MVP here, not the postseason MVP, which would undoubtedly go to David Freese. Here's a look at Freese's batting line for the World Series and some other comparables:

-- Freese: .348 BA, .464 OBP, .696 SLG (1.160 OPS) (1 HR, 7 RBI)
-- Craig: .263 BA, .417 OBP, .737 SLG (1.154 OPS) (3 HR, 5 RBI)
-- Pujols: .240 BA, .424 OBP, .640 SLG (1.064 OPS) (3 HR, 6 RBI)
-- Berkman: .423 BA, .516 OBP, .577 SLG (1.093 OPS) (1 HR, 5 RBI)

Freese was in good company, he had plenty of competition. Carpenter, however, was not in good company except for Jaime's 7 IP, 0 ER, 7 K start in Game 2. Carpenter was head and shoulders above the rest of the starting rotation in the World Series. Give it some thought, and I bet you'll see what I see: Carpenter was the crutch. Take him out of the equation and the outcome changes significantly.

Carpenter still has never lost in the postseason. On Friday he became the first pitcher in MLB history to win two winner-take-all games in a single postseason. The Cardinals are 12-3 in games he's started in the postseason in his career. He came out on 3 days rest (for the second time this postseason) and gave the Cardinals 6 strong innings. Without him, where would the Cardinals be? I doubt they win the World Series without Carpenter.

David Freese can only do so much with the bat (in fact, the 4-finger treatment could've prevented him from doing anything at all), but Chris Carpenter did a lot with his arm and put his future health in jeopardy by stockpiling innings. Nevertheless, congratulations to David Freese. Without him, we probably don't see a Game 7 or a championship. I will now continue to revel in the glory of this unforgettable and historic World Series run. Thank you, 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.

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