KANSAS CITY -- Matt Carpenter's first-half production should make him a shoo-in to be a part of next month's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard festivities. But even though he's been among the game's most dangerous offensive players since the start of 2013, it's debatable whether due notoriety has followed.
A day after it was announced that Carpenter trails third basemen Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado by 1.6 and 1.2 million votes, respectively, for the starting spot in the National League on the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, Carpenter reached base four more times to boost the Cardinals to an 8-4 win over the Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Carpenter's fifth-inning home run gave starter Michael Wacha a bit of breathing room, and a sixth-inning RBI double provided additional insurance. Carpenter sandwiched the pair of extra-base hits with two walks, giving him a team-high 52.
It's that unique and dynamic combination of power and plate discipline that distinguishes Carpenter not only as arguably the best leadoff hitter in the game, but one of baseball's best, period. He leads the NL in OPS (1.012) and slugging percentage (.592), and his .420 on-base percentage trails only D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt.
"To have that kind of power, that kind of on-base percentage, the ability to drive in runs at the top of the order, those are all extremely valuable characteristics," manager Mike Matheny said. "Carp, to me, is a top-level player and is having the kind of year that should be recognized."
With Tuesday's output, Carpenter became the seventh player in franchise history to tally at least 24 doubles, 14 homers and 49 RBIs in his first 76 games. The only other to do so since Stan Musial in 1957 was Albert Pujols, 13 years ago.
Carpenter is threatening another Musial mark, too, as it was Musial who still owns the highest June OBP (.508) in franchise history. With two days remaining this month, Carpenter's OBP sits at .500.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well and having good at-bats," Carpenter said. "I feel like I've gone through stretches where I feel pretty good in my career, too. I don't know if this is anything special. I think, more than anything, it's just averaging out. I felt really good the first month of April and hit .230 somehow. I think baseball has a funny way of evening itself out. I don't feel any better now than I did then. I'm just getting the hits."
Carpenter has reached safely in 19 of his last 20 games. During that stretch, he's hit .389/.522/.750 with nine doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs. His season totals of 49 RBIs, 148 total bases and 41 extra-base hits are all team highs.
"He's a heck of a player up there," said Wacha, who picked up the win on Tuesday. "He waits for his pitch and he's not swinging at it unless it's his pitch. He's just got a great eye. He's locked in."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.