In many baseball circles, he’s considered Major League Baseball’s best first baseman. And if he’s not ranked as the best, he’s in the very next spot, behind only Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. The list of people that put him in one of those two prime positions is strong, with the likes of Brian Kenny, Carlos Pena, and MLB Network’s “Shredder” being among that high profile list of names (and computer algorithms).
Of course you know of who I am speaking. If you’re reading this, chances are good you’re an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, and no Diamondbacks fan thinks of first baseman without thinking of their number one prize, Paul Goldschmidt.
Paul has proven to be one of the best baseball players in the MLB on the field, and off the field he has proven himself as one of the genuine “nice guys” of baseball. His acts of philanthropy throughout the community have been well documented, and he is most definitely the face of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Drafted in the 8th round of the 2009 MLB first-year player draft, Goldy started his professional baseball career playing for the Missoula Osprey, hitting .334 with 18HRs and 62RBI in his first half season of pro ball. The next season, Goldschmidt would continue to terrorize young pitchers, this time in the California League where he played Class-A advanced ball for the Visalia Rawhide. After that season, he was named the California League MVP, and he earned himself an All-Star selection as well. To top that off, the Diamondbacks organization dubbed Paul the Minor League Player of the Year.
Enter 2011. Goldschmidt starts the year in AA Mobile, Alabama, where he is again named the Diamondbacks Minor League Player of the Year, a Baseball America Minor League All Star, AA All Star First Baseman, Southern League All Star First Baseman as well as earning himself Southern League MVP honors. Goldy finished his Minor League career with a .317 batting average and a whopping 83 homeruns.
Because of his accolades at the Minor League level, the big league club called Paul up to the Majors on August 1, 2011, making the decision to allow him the opportunity at the Major League level without ever stepping foot in a AAA park. As with everything else in Paul’s life to that point, he seized the opportunity and never looked back.
In the 48 games Goldy played with “The Big Club” in 2011, he hit .250 with 8HR and 26RBI. In 156 ABs that year, he slugged .474 with 9 doubles and 1 triple to go along with solid OBP of .333. Because Paul brought consistency and lineup solidarity to 1st base, the Diamondbacks decided to let him start the 2012 season in The Bigs, and that decision would really pay off.
Paul went on to play in 145 games for Arizona in 2012, posting a slash line of .286/.359/.490 with 20HRs and 82RBI. These, of course, are very solid numbers, but don’t exactly warrant All Star selections, nor do they garner MVP votes from the BBWAA. The important thing was these numbers being representative of something much larger than individual accolades for the Diamondbacks organization – they finally found their 1st baseman. They could breathe a sigh of relief with Paul – little did the Arizona front office know what he would start to bring to the table in 2013.
.302/.401/.551 with 36HRs and 125RBI. An OPS+ of 160 to go along with 15 stolen bases (yes, out of a lumbering 6’3″ 245 pound 1st baseman). All of a sudden, Paul had been thrust in to the category of MVP, all through his own hard work and dedication to the game he loved. Goldy finished that season with a hotly contested 2nd place finish in MVP voting, losing to the Pirates Andrew McCutchen. To accompany his 2nd place MVP finish, Goldy earned himself his first Rawlings Gold Glove, his first Silver Slugger Award, and his first trip to the MLB Midsummer Classic. 2014 would’ve brought much of the same, except Paul was Hit By a Pitch after 109 games, breaking a bone in his left hand. His 2014 was painstakingly finished at .300/.396/.542 with an OPS+ of 158 and 19HRs, 69RBI. The power was down a little bit, but everything else looked very Goldschmidt-esque.
Paul Goldschmidt is a sturdy, reliable, tank of a man from whom we can count on a solid 150+ games in 2015. His work ethic is second to none on the team, and his love of actually being on the field is well documented. Given those details, it’s safe to assume Paul’s prodigious power will return in 2015.
I’m on the fence regarding hitter protection, but if it helps Paul in 2015, then Diamondbacks fans should have quite the warm-and-fuzzy because he’ll be protected by the power of Trumbo and the very quick and powerful bat of Tomas. If you’re not one for believing in the value (or lack thereof) of batter protection, then Goldschmidt has proven time and time again he can do it regardless of a pitcher’s pitch sequencing, because he’s just that talented. A pitcher will be hesitant to walk Goldy, as he’s a threat to steal. On the other side of that coin, pitchers won’t want to (and never have wanted to) throw to Goldschmidt, because he is a true all around hitter, with the power to all fields, but the smarts to know that often big-gap doubles and triples are just as, if not more so, important and momentum swinging as the long-ball.
Final predictions on Goldschmidt’s 2015 season are tough to make, but I’ll take a stab anyway – and we can review this both at the All-Star break and once the season has concluded as well, to see how I am doing/did. Here goes nothing:
I think Paul will have his best season yet at the dish, as he continues to mature and develop as a Major League ballplayer. The front office has committed to putting more power around him, and I think that will help. His slash line should be somewhere around .323/.400/.550. Count on 120RBI and 30HR to go along with his typical 40 doubles, give or take, 3-4 triples, and 15-20 stolen bases. The stolen base total could go all the way down to 1-5, however, if Hale tells Goldschmidt to take it easy on the base-paths in the interest of protecting Paul’s health, and I think the chances of this happening are pretty good, if not great. Paul will probably not win the MVP because Arizona probably won’t be in the playoffs, and even though that’s not supposed to be taken into account, we all know it is. He’s nearly a lock for a Gold Glove, as there’s no one near as talented, defensively, at 1B in the NL as he. Silver Slugger is another safe bet.
Look for Paul to add some trophies to his mantle after the 2015 season, including another All Star Game appearance (and most likely start, as well). The two trophies I don’t see him adding until Arizona can push for the playoffs are the (obvious) World Series trophy, and the aforementioned MVP.
Welcome to having a superstar first baseman, Dbacks fans – buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.