As 2012 comes to a close and we creep closer to spring training and the 2013 season, we seem to be getting closer to knowing what the 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks will look like. One player in particular that offers some certainty and looks to play a significant role for Arizona this season is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. After a solid 2012 campaign, Arizona will look to the 25 year-old first baseman to take another step forward in his career development and as a feared bat in the heart of their lineup.
Before his call-up to the majors late in the 2011 season, Goldschmidt had played his way into the spotlight of the Diamondbacks farm system. In just three seasons in the Arizona farm system spanning three levels from Rookie League Missoula, Class A Visalia and Class AA Mobile, the young prospect amassed 83 home runs and 264 RBI while hitting .317 in 315 minor league games. Goldschmidt also produced a stellar 1.026 OPS over that span, as well making his promotion to the major leagues a hot topic for the organization as the 2011 season progressed.
Goldschmidt joined the major league club in August of 2011 and became a big part of the team’s NL West championship season, hitting .250 with eight home runs and 26 RBI in just 177 plate appearances. He also contributed better-than-expected defense at first base for the team down the stretch. The job was Goldschmidt’s heading into the 2012 season. Offering average to above-average defense, the young first baseman’s offensive contribution became even more significant in his first full season in the majors. Goldschmidt’s bat was one of the brighter spots in the Arizona lineup hovering around .300 for the better part of the season. Goldschmidt finished 2012 hitting .286 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 587 plate appearances. One of the more impressive aspects of his 2012 campaign, was the fact that he ran the bases extremely well. He produced 18 stolen bases on the season, good for 8th in the NL in stolen base percentage.
The Diamondbacks organization and fans alike hope that 2013 brings another level of improvement to Goldschmidt’s production at the plate. With over 700 plate appearances at the major league level, Goldschmidt is proving that he can adjust to major league pitching. With that continued improvement, it would be great to see him cut back on the 130 strikeouts from 2012 and work himself into more favorable hitter’s counts. If he is able to accomplish that, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see him hit over .300. Imagining Goldschmidt hitting 30 home runs and 100 RBI is not unrealistic either.
With questions still lingering about who will be manning the outfield for Arizona in 2013, they are entering the new year with a very comfortable feeling about what they are getting from Goldschmidt at first base. The club has to be optimistic that he’ll be a rock in their lineup regardless of who’s hitting in front of or behind him.