Chris Carpenter's exploits thus far in the postseason have been impressive, but they're not exactly news. The best pitcher in the National League playoffs in 2006 was also the best in the league in the regular season, at least according to his peers.
Carpenter was announced on Tuesday as a repeat winner of The Sporting News' NL pitcher of the year. Balloting was conducted late in the season, with 296 NL players casting votes. Carpenter also won the award -- as well as the NL Cy Young Award -- in 2005.
Carpenter was the only Cardinals player honored. Albert Pujols fell short of Ryan Howard for first baseman on TSN's National League all-star team, as well as for player of the year. Scott Rolen was outvoted by Nomar Garciaparra for the magazine's comeback player of the year.
But Carpenter was once again the man on the mound. The right-hander went 15-8, reaching 15 wins for the third time in as many seasons in a St. Louis uniform. He posted a 3.09 ERA that was second in the league, while amassing 184 strikeouts (seventh in NL), five complete games (third) and three shutouts (tied for first).
He could have had plenty more than 15 wins, but at various times, bullpen letdowns and a lack of offensive support cost him in that category.
"Everything hasn't worked for him this year," said manager Tony La Russa. "Sometimes we don't score. And he has just ignored everything and gotten ready to pitch, and he's putting another great season. But it isn't like everything fell into place for him. He's had a couple things go against him."
Personal wins, though, aren't what Carpenter looks at. He's more concerned with another number. The Cardinals went 20-12 in games he started.
"I prepare myself to go out and win and give my team a chance to win," he said. "Fortunately, that's a nice number. I try to be as consistent as I can and give my team a chance to win, whether I win or lose. If we win the game, that's good."
In a rotation filled with many more questions than the club has been used to, Carpenter was a constant in 2006. When anyone other than the ace was on the hill, St. Louis was a sub-.500 team, going 63-66.
It's not overstating anything to say that Carpenter was a major difference between making and missing the postseason.
"He's a professional," said second baseman Ronnie Belliard. "He knows what he needs to do. And we all believe in him. When he takes the mound, hey, we're going to win."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.