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St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter Should Have Been Named Finalist for NL MVP Award

Converted Second Baseman Filled Two Needs and Was a Spark Plug at Top of Cardinals' Potent Lineup

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COMMENTARY | The finalists for various MLB season-ending awards were announced recently and the St. Louis Cardinals were fortunate enough to have three representatives recognized.

Catcher Yadier Molina was named a finalist to win the National League MVP Award.

Meanwhile, ace Adam Wainwright was recognized among the best pitchers in the NL as a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award and nearly forgotten-about 23-year-old Shelby Miller was named a finalist to win NL Rookie of the Year.

While Cardinals fans should feel proud to see that the accomplishments of three of the team's main contributors get attention, the one player who likely should receive the most recognition received none at all.

Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter should have been among the three finalists for the NL MVP Award.

This is in no disrespect to Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will likely win the award, or Molina, or Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had an outstanding and breakout season.

But Carpenter's season was so special and for so many reasons.

First, Carpenter changed positions last winter, sacrificing in order to help the team and get his bat in the lineup regularly, making St. Louis a better team all around. Carpenter completed that transformation without a flinch.

Carpenter was solid defensively all season long playing out of position. His 4.72 range factor was the fourth-best among NL second basemen, tied with Gold Glove Award winner Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds. Carpenter made just nine errors on the season, which was also tied with Phillips. Finally, Carpenter was involved in 97 double plays, the most of any second baseman in the NL.

Carpenter exceeded everyone's expectations defensively, but the real case for why Carpenter was robbed of true consideration for the NL MVP comes from what he did at the plate.

Searching for a leadoff hitter, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny asked Carpenter to fill the role, another job that initially seemed unconventional for Carpenter, who seemed better suited as a No. 2 hitter or possibly in a position to knock in some runs.

But Carpenter excelled in the role and the Cardinals' offense took off because of it.

Carpenter hit .318 on the season, which was the sixth highest in the NL and higher than both McCutchen and Goldschmidt.

Carpenter's 55 doubles led not only the National League but were also the most in all of baseball, with Manny Machado trailing him with 51. Molina had the fourth-most doubles in baseball, and second-most in the NL, with 44. Carpenter was 11 doubles better than anyone else in the NL.

Carpenter also led all of baseball in runs scored, crossing the plate 126 times in 2013. Mike Trout was second in baseball with 109 runs scored and the second-highest count from a National League player came from Shin-Soo Choo of the Cincinnati Reds, who scored 107. Carpenter scored 19 more runs than any other player in the NL.

Finally, Carpenter's strikeout to walk ratio was outstanding. He struck out only 98 times in 626 at-bats and drew 72 walks on the season.

While Carpenter's overall numbers are impressive, when compared to other leadoff hitters in baseball, it is clear that Carpenter was outstanding at completing the job he was being asked to do. A job that was very important to the success of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carpenter's .398 on-base percentage and .881 OPS while hitting leadoff was second only to Choo in the National League. Meanwhile, Carpenter drove in the more runs than Choo, knocking in an impressive 69 RBIs from the leadoff spot.

Carpenter played for a playoff team that made it to the World Series. He served a key role as a leadoff hitter and table setter for a potent offense. He sacrificed by playing out of position defensively and did so very well. He led the league in a few major offensive categories and was among the leaders in several others.

What else does a player need to do to get in the MVP discussion?

The truth of the matter is, that despite not putting the ball over the wall like Goldschmidt or McCutchen, Carpenter was every bit as valuable to the Cardinals as those two were to their respective teams.

McCutchen, Molina and Goldschmidt all had great seasons and are deserving of the recognition given as finalists for the NL MVP Award. But recognizing only these three does not do justice for the type of special season Matt Carpenter had for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Corey Rudd is owner/editor of StlSportsMinute.com and co-host of Fan Interference on CBS Sports 920 AM in St. Louis. Rudd writes about the St. Louis Cardinals , St. Louis Rams and Missouri Tigers football team as a contributor for Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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