In a Joan Osborne/Baruch Spinoza sort of way. They're both just starstuff after all.
But empirically, and for the purposes of Major League Baseball, they are in fact two separate dudes. However, they both signed six-year extensions worth almost the exact same amount in terms of total value, both with and without the option years included in the deals.
Kipnis, 27, signed a six-year, $52.5 million deal with Cleveland that include an option for 2020 at $16.5 million. That brings the total potential value to $66.5 million.
Carpenter, 28, signed a six-year, $52 million deal that can reach $68.5 million.
Pretty close. So who got the most out of their infield ante?
Kipnis turned 27 on Thursday. Carpenter turned 28 in November. Basically, when Jason born, Matt was learning how to walk. It's a lot closer than it seemed. While Carpenter hasn't been around long, he has a notable reputation as a late bloomer. Kipnis has played 61 more games in the majors, but he still has some of that prospect-y shine to him (2014 will be his third full season).
Cleveland's deal holds the edge in terms of days on the planet, but Kipnis and Carpenter are close enough to where it probably won't matter much.
Both players have put up over eight wins in their two-plus years as big leaguers. Kipnis has posted 8.5, Carpenter 8.2. Of course there's the stipulation that Kipnis had a 60-game head start -- nearly 400 plate appearances. That's a full season for some semi-part time players, so Carpenter looks like the more potent commodity.
Kipnis can boast a more diffuse oeuvre. Conversely, Carpenter has one monster season and not much else. He could regress, and his transition to third may or may not end up being a positive for the Cardinals. It remains to be seen. Third is his natural position, and the fact that he can move around the infield has to be considered an added bonus.
Since both guys have been of similar value so far, it's hard to determine a clear cut frontrunner in terms of production to this point.
Hey, maybe theses similarities are why their contracts look the same! Carpnis and Kippenter!
The milky nebulosity of the near future is where this "competition" between Kipnis and Carpenter will play out. And that's literally impossible to gauge in the current state of transtemporal technologies.
As far as projection systems go, ZiPS like Kipnis a little bit more for 2014, but Steamer and Oliver both have Carpenter pegged for a better year. For some reason, ZiPS projects a significant spike in Carpenter's strikeout rate and it scaled his BABIP down to .314 from a career average of .351. His career sample is pretty small, but that would be a steep drop off. Kipnis is projected to stay close to his numbers from 2011-12.
Oliver does projections five years into the future, which seems a little superfluous, but it's still fun to look at.
Looks like Oliver projects more staying power for Carpenter, but again, hard to predict.
Whether or not things work out that way, of course, remains to be seen. Injuries or some other external factor could become a factor. However, after comparing these two guys it becomes pretty easy to see why their teams valued them similarly. Fans of their teams could probably come up with compelling cases for either player, but it's pretty close at this point in their careers.