The St. Louis Cardinals’ versatile and valuable Matt Carpenter received the 2012 Cardinals Rookie of the Year Award at Sunday night’s Baseball Writers’ Dinner.
The 27-year-old Texan played all over the infield and outfield for another impressive rookie, manager Mike Matheny. Carpenter made starts at five positions this past season, including 30 at first base, two at second base, 22 at third base, three in left field and 10 in right.
|Carpenter versus Cain|
Offensively, Carpenter contributed seven sacrifice flies, the most by a Cardinals rookie since Albert Pujols had the same number in 2001. His 11 pinch-hit RBI was the most by a Cardinals rookie since Joe Frazier set the team record with 15 in 1954 and tied for second in the National League.
Carpenter performed strongly across the board against his NL peers. The left-handed hitter finished fifth among National League rookies (minimum 50 games) in batting average (.294), tied for third in triples (five), was eighth in RBI (46) and seventh in doubles (22).
Carpenter’s post-season highlight was the eventual game-winning hit in the Cardinals’ 3-1 National League Championship Series Game 3 victory at Busch Stadium. It occurred in the third inning when Carpenter, brought into the game in the second inning to replace injured Carlos Beltran (left knee strain), blasted a two-run home run off San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain.
In his Monday remarks at Winter Warm-Up, Carpenter looked back on his rookie season. “Being up the whole year and being around the great group of guys in our clubhouse was a real good learning experience for me,” he explained. “Going through my first post-season and all those things was something you will really benefit from as your career goes on. I was really blessed to be a part of it. I learned a lot and had some fun while I was doing it.”
In his acceptance speech, Carpenter acknowledged his worthy and strong competition from teammates Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Pete Kozma.
The Cardinals 2011 Rookie of the Year winner was Daniel Descalso, preceded by left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia in 2010.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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