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Thursday, February 7, 2013

St. Louis Cardinals: Comparing Chris Carpenter and Bob Gibson

The St. Louis Cardinals are going to sorely miss Chris Carpenter in 2013 not only for his ability to shutdown the opposition with a darting fastball and a nasty hook, but also for his demeanor, presence and will to win.

Many believe that nobody since Bob Gibson has worn the Cardinals uniform and taken the hill with as much tenacity, grit, determination, competitive fire and intimidation the way Chris Carpenter did during his nine years in a Cardinals' uniform.

While it is obvious to compare the intangibles and see the similarities between Carpenter and Gibson qualitatively  when you dig into the stats you will see that they are much more alike than you think quantitatively as well.

Gibson is overwhelmingly known as the best Cardinals pitcher of all-time and rightfully so. The Hall of Famer pitched 17 stellar seasons in St. Louis, compiling a 251-174 record while striking fear into the hearts of the opposition with each blazing fastball.

Carpenter only pitched nine seasons in a Cardinals uniform, but he was able to go 95-44 during his tenure in St. Louis. The differences between wins and losses are about the place where the differences stop because as you break down several other key pitching statistics, Gibson and Carpenter were remarkably similar.

Gibson did have a better ERA than Carpenter, posting a 2.91 ERA compared to Carp's 3.07 ERA in St. Louis. But Carpenter had the edge in WHIP, posting a 1.125 compared to Gibson's 1.188.

Gibson was always known as a menacing strikeout artist, but he and Carpenter both actually struck out 7.2 hitters per nine innings during their Cardinals' careers.

Carpenter actually managed to walk less guys than Gibson and posted a 3.67 SO/BB ratio, much higher than Gibson's 2.33.

For the sabermatricians out there, Gibson did have the edge in WAR, posting an average WAR per season of 4.56 during his 17 year career, compared to Carpenter's 3.64 average over nine seasons.

While sabermetrics are fun, it is how one performs in the post-season that truly counts and both Gibson and Carpenter were spectacular on the big stage. Carpenter had a 10-4 post-season mark with a 3.00 ERA in 18 games started. Gibson, only started nine post-season games, compiling a 7-2 record and a minuscule 1.89 ERA.

Both were dominant forces during post-season play resulting in team success for the Cardinals. Gibson and Carpenter each helped the Cardinals win a pair of World Series Championships, yet another ironic similarity.

Fans in St. Louis have always appreciated Chris Carpenter and have honored his will to compete and winning mentality. When you look closer at his stats during his time in St. Louis, Cardinals fans will have no choice but to worship Chris Carpenter the same way they have Bob Gibson for many years to come.

The stats, the awards and the championships along with our eyes and our hearts say we must.

Corey Rudd is the owner and founder of StlSportsMinute.com and hosts The Cruddy Show (@CruddyShow), a St. Louis sports talk show, every Tuesday and Friday night at 9:30 pm CT.  You can also follow Rudd on Twitter (@CoreyRudd).