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Chris Carpenter: The REAL World Series MVP

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In Carp we trust.
You know what's really a dick move? Just a couple days after a thrilling, beautiful victory in the World Series, and just one day after a parade that brought together thousands of strangers in the streets to celebrate a shared joy, taking to task the guy who won the Most Valuable Player award for said World Series. Oh, and he's a local kid, and kind of an inspirational story about a guy who hasn't always made the best decisions in life, and once gave up his dream because he didn't think he was good enough, and he's not hard on the eyes, either. 

I mean, honestly, what kind of jerk would go and tarnish this great golden god of St. Louis so soon? You'd have to be a real bastard to say anything bad about David Freese right now. 

Ahem. 

David Freese should not have won the World Series MVP award. In fact, he was the third most deserving Cardinal, and I'll tell you why. 

For starters, even looking at the offensive side of things, I would argue Lance Berkman was actually the Cards' most valuable hitter in the series. Don't get me wrong; Freese's .348/.464/.696 line and 1.160 OPS is certainly MVP-worthy. And, to be fair, that OPS is actually higher than Berkman's, who posted a 1.093 for the series. But, look at the components to what Berkman did.

He hit .423/.516/.577. I bolded the middle number for a reason; that's a .516 on-base percentage. Berkman reached base in more than half his plate appearances in the World Series. He didn't hit for the kind of power Freese did, and I freely admit the game six dramatics were tough to top, but I still say the Puma had a better series. 

Berkman scored nine runs and drove in five; Freese drove in seven but scored just four. Berkman was in the mix of virtually every single rally the Cards mustered against Texas; Freese had the more dramatic impact, but Berkman was constantly contributing in a way no other Cardinal hitter did. 

This is to dismiss absolutely nothing of Allen Craig, of course, who amassed a 1.154 OPS of his own, along with three homers and the game-winning RBI in games one and seven. I would give Freese the edge over Craig, though, by just a hair. Offensively I put Berkman at the top, Freese solidly in the runner-up position, and Craig gets Miss Congeniality. 

Really, though, all of this is somewhat academic. All three players were outstanding in the World Series, and any of the three could have taken home MVP honours and it wouldn't have been any more or less of a travesty. 

That's because the man who really should have won the World Series MVP award didn't put up a single offensive stat worth mentioning. Chris Carpenter was the rightful winner of the award, and for my money it wasn't even all that close. 

Carpenter started games one, five, and seven, and the Cards won two of those three starts. In game five, Carpenter pitched more than well enough to get the win, but a malfunctioning bullpen phone and an equally malfunctioning bullpen blew that game in the eighth inning. 

Carpenter came into the World Series a question mark due to a balky elbow, and left an exclamation point due to the sheer force of will he displayed in leading the Cards to a game seven victory. He did it starting on three days' rest for just the second time in his career and was masterful, allowing a pair of first inning runs before stamping out both the offense and hopes of the Rangers

For maybe the first time in my writing career, though, I don't think there are any numbers I can come up with to prove my point. What Carpenter did for the Cardinals in this series wasn't properly captured in the box score, because it couldn't be. What Carpenter did was what he's done so many other times in his career: he led the Cards to victory on pure willpower, refusing to lose and go home. 

Honestly, was there any doubt the Cardinals would win game seven once the rain came and pushed the final two games back, giving Carpenter a chance to pitch again? Short rest or no, I don't think there was anyone in the city of St. Louis who didn't believe in Chris Carpenter standing on the mound in the final game of the World Series. 

Chris Carpenter acted the part of a true ace, perhaps for the final time in his career. Next season there will be both a returning Adam Wainwright and a maturing Jaime Garcia to contend with, and Carp might very well find himself behind both in the pecking order. But this October, there was one force the Cardinals could rely on time and time again when they needed a win, and that force was Chris Carpenter. He won no award for outdueling Roy Halladay in game five of the NLDS, nor was he the story of an NLCS which saw a remade bullpen throw more innings than the starters in the process of emerging as a true force. But in the World Series, Chris Carpenter was the engine which drove the Cardinals to their eleventh championship. And to see the award he so richly deserved go to someone else is worse than the Holocaust, the Great Library of Alexandria fire, and every rap-rock album ever recorded all put together. 

Well, okay, maybe it isn't that bad. Freese did have a hell of series too. But still. 

David Freese won the World Series MVP on the strength of the story. But Chris Carpenter was the single most valuable player the Cardinals had, and he should have been recognized as such. 


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