Goldilocks went looking for a relief pitcher. (Don’t panic, this isn’t about Anna Benson.) She looked at the 2011 season, and she said, “This season is too mediocre.” Then she looked at the 2012 season, and she said, “This season is too sucky” (because that’s how I think girls talk.) Then she looked at the 2013 season, and she said, “This season is just right.”
Coming off of a disastrous 2012 season with Houston and Toronto, David Carpenter’s third Major League season was definitely just right. In 2013, the 28 year old Carpenter allowed just 45 hits in 66 innings while recording 74 strikeouts. He ended with a 1.78 ERA and a 0.990 WHIP.
The big question going forward: Which David Carpenter can we expect in 2014? Coming into 2013, he had a career ERA of 5.70 in 60 innings, but that’s misleading, because it was composed of a perfectly decent 2011 season in Houston (27 2/3 IP, 28 H, 29 K, 2.93 ERA) and an utter implosion in 2012, when Carpenter allowed 51 hits in 32 1/3 innings, recording an 8.07 ERA with a 2.072 WHIP. (David, that ERA… woof.)
There are two clues that 2012 and not 2013 is the outlier, which is great news for the Braves. As much as one can comfortably discern about someone averaging 40 IP per season, one constant in each of Carpenter’s three Major League seasons has been a favorable strikeout rate. Even in 2012, he had 31 strikeouts in 32 innings, and his career rate is 10.1 K/9IP. The second clue is that in 2012 his batting average on balls in play was .430. In 2013 the BABIP was a more reasonable .263, and sits at .337 for the career.
I believe that the circumstances of 2012 are not significantly likely to be repeated, and that 2014 for David Carpenter will be another fairy tale with a happy ending. (Still not about Anna Benson.)