ST. LOUIS — Everyone loves a comeback story. Everyone especially loves a comeback story when the person making the comeback is so easy to root for. In a nutshell, that's been the Matt Carpenter experience in 2022.
Watching Carpenter for his last two seasons in St. Louis was mostly a painful experience.
The guy just couldn't get it going.
In 180 games during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Carpenter hit .176 with a .605 OPS and 125 strikeouts in 347 at-bats. It was ugly. And that's putting it mildly.
It was no surprise that after 2021, the on-field relationship between the Cardinals and Carpenter was over.
It wasn't working, and there was absolutely no reason to bring back a struggling veteran when there were promising young players knocking on the door for playing time.
Carpenter signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, never made it to the MLB roster and that looked like that. A great career that had just fizzled out.
Until all of the sudden he's setting the world on fire for the best team in baseball. What?
You can't say you saw Matt Carpenter's success with the New York Yankees coming. You just can't. I won't believe you. You're a liar.
As of Wednesday morning, Carpenter is hitting .321 with a 1.227 OPS, 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in just 112 at-bats for the Bronx Bombers. I mean the man has a higher OPS as a Yankee than Babe Ruth for crying out loud. (Yes I know it's only been 42 games)
But while the comeback has been unexpected, it hasn't been unappreciated.
Carpenter was always a favorite in St. Louis.
At his best, he was the ultimate tough out who filled whatever role the team needed him to fill. And when he was hot? Oh man was he hot.
Carpenter's late-season stretch in 2018 is still one of the most locked-in runs I've ever seen a player go on. The man could do no wrong.
Now, thanks to a career renaissance, he's at it again. This time on the biggest stage in the game in New York City.
And I don't think there's a Cardinals fan who isn't loving every minute of it.
Carpenter will be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame one day. Look at the numbers. He's worthy. Seeing him capture success again after all of the dismal days at the end of his tenure in St. Louis can't help but make you feel good for the guy.
With the Yankees in town his weekend, Carpenter and his mustache will be back at Busch Stadium, where he made countless memories for a generation of fans over a decade as a Cardinal.
He'll get one heck of an ovation from the crowd, and I bet the emotion is going to get to him.
This is the guy who penned one of the most heartfelt goodbye letters to St. Louis I can remember. This town and these fans mattered to him, and I know they still do.
So welcome back to St. Louis, Matt Carpenter. Cardinals fans have never stopped rooting for your comeback story.