"He looks like he's taking the Matt Carpenter bats that we've been spoiled with seeing all season," manager Mike Matheny said. "This guy takes as professional an at-bat as anybody I've seen in a long time. ... We've talked about him trying to do too much or putting too much pressure on himself, but there are also times that this is just a hard game. It's tough trying to figure out this hitting thing, and you fall into those ruts every once in a while. The good ones don't stay in there very long, and you can see Matt Carpenter is on his way out.
After playing his way into the NL MVP conversation by leading the Majors in hits (199), runs (126) and multihit games (63) while batting .318 in just his first season at second base, Carpenter's production stalled at the end of September. He recorded his 199th hit on Sept. 27, but he was held hitless in his last eight at-bats to fall short of a milestone 200th hit. His slump carried over into the postseason, during which he has reached base just twice in five games.
"That's the game of baseball; you go through ups and downs," Carpenter said. "I've had plenty of slumps in my career. This certainly won't be the final one. It's just a little more magnified because it's during the postseason. These are things that happen. All you can do is just continue to go out and put together quality at-bats and try to hit the ball hard and play good defense, do those sorts of things to help the team win."
The 27-year-old second baseman is eager for a fresh start against the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series and is confident his numbers will trend in a positive direction.
"Really, there's no rhyme or reason for it. I think hitting, sometimes you can make it look easier than it really is," he said. "That's' just the way the game goes sometimes. Sometimes you can't get out. Sometimes you can't find a way to get on base. I'm going through one of those stretches, but the good news is, and I've always been this way, you know it finds a way to even out. I'm looking forward to getting to the park [Friday] and will hopefully even things out."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.