Lightning in a bottle.
Google that and you will find two meanings.
One, an expression popularized in the 1750s by Ben Franklin’s kite experiment of trapping electricity from lightning in a Leyden jar.
Two, the phrase was brought back from the dead by Leo Durocher in 1941 when he was describing something unlikely to happen.
It’s a difficult or challenging feat. And it’s what the Rangers are hoping to capture with the signing of Matt Carpenter.
The Cardinals left him for dead. Cardinals fans have as much love for Carpenter the past three seasons as Rangers fans had for Odor. But Carpenter, unlike Odor, had some brilliant seasons.
From 2012, when he finished in the top ten in Rookie of the Year voting, to 2018, when he finished in the top ten in MVP voting, Carpenter was electricity in the Cardinals lineup. A three-time All-Star, he had an OPS+ of at least 120 for six of his first seven full seasons with St Louis, leading the league in doubles twice, and hits in 2013.
The guy was an offensive machine.
Then, the machine broke down. And it seems replacement parts have been hard to find. His run of dominance and excellence ended. The past three seasons, he Odored the Cardinals lineup, culminating in an OPS+ of just 65 last season. He hit .226, then .186, then .169 the past three seasons, with disappearing on-base percentages as well: .334, .325, .305.
What happens when you fall off the baseball map? You land in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers signed the Texas native and graduate of TCU to a minor league deal.
It’s the proverbial lighting in a bottle deal. They have nothing to lose. If Carpenter hasn’t figured it out, he will be released. No harm done.
If he does find even a semblance of his past offensive glory, the Rangers have third base solved until Josh Jung returns next season.
One thing to remember. The Rangers plucked Adolis Garcia from the Cardinals last year the same way. And he made the All-Star team.
Who knows what will happen with Matt Carpenter. But the Rangers have nothing to lose. When you lose 102 games like they did last year, they literally have nothing to lose.