ST. LOUIS -- It was late last month when, with some frequency, manager Mike Matheny began plugging Matt Carpenter into the leadoff spot. At the time, the move was described as a short-term stopgap. Jon Jay was in an extended offensive funk, and no one else on the roster really profiled as a top-of-the-order bat.
Jay has since found his swing, having hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. In the meantime, however, Carpenter has thrived from the top spot, leaving Matheny content to continue as is with the batting order until it is obvious that it requires any tinkering.
"The problem you run into is messing with something that is working," Matheny said. "With Jon hitting the way he is lower in the lineup and being productive down there, you don't want to give away that. And Matt getting on base the way he is, I'm sure it makes it pretty interesting when you bring up Carlos [Beltran], Matt [Holliday] and Allen [Craig] right behind him. It's working right now. We'll see how it looks later on."
Carpenter batted leadoff for the first time this season on April 18. In the 21 games he has played since, Carpenter has hit from the top in 16 of them. His .318 batting average as a leadoff hitter is the best in the National League, while his on-base percentage (.423) ranks second.
Carpenter has reached base in 14 of the 17 games in which he's hit leadoff and has reached base at least three times in each of the last four games. Before this season, Carpenter had hit leadoff only once in his Major League career.
"Mike, in spring, mentioned that this might be a possibility," Carpenter said. "I was ready for that opportunity. I've been in there the last couple of days and it's been going well. I'm just going to do whatever I can when I'm in there and have good at-bats."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.