Just more than a year into his big-league career, Detroit Tigers outfielder Kerry Carpenter hasn’t endured many slumps. He collected just six hits in his first 37 plate appearances after making his MLB debut on Aug. 10, 2022, but then hit .282 the rest of the season once he got settled in the majors.
In 2023, Carpenter worked through a slow start (.217 in April), then a shoulder sprain kept him out all of May. He followed that with a .323 average in June, but began a true slump starting July 21. Over an 11-game stretch, Carpenter went 7-for-37 with zero extra base hits.
Yet he’s rebounded nicely in 10 games since, as the 25-year-old has clubbed 17 hits, three doubles and four home runs. Three of those home runs came in Detroit’s road series this past weekend against the Boston Red Sox. The former 19th-round pick went yard Friday and then hit two balls over Fenway Park’s famous Green Monster on Saturday.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) August 12, 2023
Boston's greatest hits:
— Kerry Carpenter's two-homer game (2023)
— More Than a Feeling (1976) pic.twitter.com/DOeqAqxEIS
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 12, 2023
Carpenter ranks first or second on the team in a variety of statistical categories, including batting average (.282), home runs (15) and OPS (.855).
“There’s more of a sense of feeling I belong up here,” he said in a recent interview with MLive.com. “It’s cool to see the growth and progression from a year ago.
“[A year ago], I was definitely confident. Because even in the minors, you face guys with big-league stuff. But doing it every day against the big names in the big stadiums in front of crowds, it’s completely different. It’s a confidence builder to have success up here.”
He hasn’t always been confident. When Carpenter lost his dad to liver cancer in 2020, he started asking himself difficult questions and didn’t like the answers he was coming up with. He turned to his faith, which he had grown up with but hadn’t taken seriously. He believed in Jesus but didn’t feel like his life actually reflected it.
Carpenter began reading his Bible in the months following his dad’s passing and found that it spoke to him in a way it never had before. In January 2021, he gave his life to Christ. It took until May 2022 for Carpenter to reach a place of complete surrender.
He said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast this March that God’s grace is the only way he can explain his rapid rise.
“It just kind of manifested in freedom and peace that Christ gave me on the field because that’s something that before I knew Christ I never had,” he said on the podcast. “Never. Never played a baseball game in freedom or peace.”
Throughout his time in the minors and with the Tigers, Carpenter has consistently quoted Scripture and given glory to the Lord on Instagram.
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“He’s reminding me that this is all by His grace and His faithfulness,” he said on the podcast. “And this is all for His glory, not for my glory, not for my anything. That’s something I really want to dial in on.”
Since coming to know Christ, Carpenter has made an effort to focus less on his numbers. He is playing for God’s glory and letting everything else take care of itself.
“My goal, basically, is to just be as great as I possibly can be, to reach my full potential,” he said on the podcast. “And I personally believe the only way to do that is through Jesus Christ. That’s the foundation. That’s the rock. He’ll guide me and lead me wherever, but that’s kind of the way I think I can honor Him through this sport that I play.”
The Tigers (53-65) have an off day Monday and begin a two-game series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. They are currently eight games behind the AL Central-leading Twins.
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