ST. LOUIS -- In previous seasons, St. Louis Cardinals players split the cost of a private jet to get them all to the All-Star Game. This season, Matt Carpenter’s only company on the way to San Diego could be his wife and 2-month-old daughter.
Carpenter is the Cardinals’ lone All-Star, at least for the moment. He was picked by National League manager Terry Collins, which is perfectly appropriate since Carpenter happens to lead the NL with a 1.008 OPS. If Carpenter winds up being the only Cardinal at the game -- and there is plenty of time for a teammate or two to be added due to injuries or other withdrawals -- he would be the first solo Cardinal All-Star since Matt Morris in 2002.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny typically announces the team’s All-Star berths in a pregame meeting in the clubhouse, but on Tuesday he beckoned Carpenter into his office for a one-on-one session.
“I think it’s what we both wanted,” Carpenter said. “Usually, it’s a big event because we’ve got a lot of guys representing us. I certainly think we had some guys who got snubbed this year, but that’s the way it always goes.”
The rival Chicago Cubs were the first team in 31 years to have five players voted in by fans.
Other Cardinals considered in the mix for spots were rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, batting .313 entering Tuesday, pitchers Carlos Martinez and Seung Hwan Oh, outfielder Stephen Piscotty and catcher Yadier Molina. Molina had been picked for seven straight All-Star games and was leading up until the final round of voting was released, when he was passed by Buster Posey. Molina ranks fifth among NL catchers with a .259 batting average.
Posey edged Molina by about 100,000 votes, 2.27 million to 2.16 million. Molina told ESPNDeportes’ Marly Rivera he wasn’t disappointed with the results.
“What’s disappointing is the way I have been playing,” Molina said. “Players in the All-Star Game must be the best in the league and I did not earn that this year. I agree with the fans who voted. This year, I did not deserve to go.”
It is Carpenter’s third All-Star selection. He was picked in 2013 and 2014 as well. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak praised his willingness to move positions in the middle of the season. Carpenter started the season at third base but moved to second last month to accommodate the return of Jhonny Peralta and the emergence of Diaz.
“He’s almost the face of the franchise, not just for his success on the field but for his leadership in the clubhouse and his evolution to be able to play multiple positions when asked,” Mozeliak said. “He never complains. He’s always been a great teammate and someone, from an organizational standpoint, you’re lucky to have.”
Carpenter’s wife, Mackenzie, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Kinley Rae, on May 25. Before that, Carpenter was batting .250 with an .884 OPS in 46 games. In his 30 games since the birth of his daughter, he is hitting .383 with a 1.183 OPS.
“Maybe I got my dad strength that people talk about,” Carpenter said.
Diaz, who is second to Dodgers rookie Corey Seager among NL shortstops with an .896 OPS, is probably the closest thing the Cardinals have to an outright snub. He was passed over in favor of shortstops Addison Russell and Seager.
“I thought there were some other guys having the kind of seasons who deserved to be on the All-Star team,” Matheny said. “It’s the system we’re in. It just didn’t work out.”