The Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball (44-20), the best run differential in baseball (+159), a World Series manager in Joe Maddon and the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta.
Thus, it’s pretty safe to say that the Cubs are the best team in baseball.
Matt Carpenter disagrees.
“Well, I don’t like giving that title out until the season’s over,” the Cardinals third baseman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “According to what you’re saying, we were the best team in baseball last year, when we won 100 games. But we didn’t win it. The Royals ended up winning it. They were the best team in baseball. That’s just my take on it. At the end of the season in October, the team that takes home that trophy, that’s going to be the best team in baseball. If that’s the Cubs, then so be it. If that’s the St. Louis Cardinals or the Kansas City Royals or the San Francisco Giants, then that’ll be the best team in baseball.”
The Cardinals went 100-62 in last season but lost to the Cubs in the NLDS. Having the best record in baseball was nice, but Carpenter would have preferred a World Series ring.
“I feel like that’s the mindset you have to have as a player,” he said. “Am I extremely proud and do I think that it was amazing what we were able to accomplish in the regular season last year? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, we didn’t accomplish the goal that we set out to accomplish in spring training – and that’s win the World Series. The season is played to get to the postseason. However you do that, whether you do that by winning 150 games and winning the division or winning 70 games and sneaking into a Wild Card, if you get in, you get in. And the team that plays best in the postseason and they win the World Series, that’s the best team. That’s just the way I look at it. I think that’s the way you have to look at it as a player – because ultimately, that’s what you want. You want to win the World Series. You don’t want to win the division and win 100 games. You don’t get a trophy for that.”
Carpenter would sure like to get one this season. The Cardinals (35-30) trail the Cubs by 9.5 games in the NL Central but can cut into that deficit during a three-game series that begins next Monday.
Carpenter can feel the rivalry every time he takes the field against Chicago.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,” he said. “Even when they weren’t playing at the caliber that they’re playing today, you could still feel it – just because the fans make it such a big deal. Both teams travel extremely well when we both go to Chicago or when they come into St. Louis. But now that that they’re one of the best teams in baseball, you can feel it. There’s an intensity that is being played at in every game of the series. You can feel kind of the pulse starting with the fans in the stands and all the way down to the field with the players. So it’s a pretty fun thing to be a part of.”