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How Goldschmidt compares to the greats through four seasons

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Sep 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hits a two run home run in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hits a two run home run in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Paul Goldschmidt is arguably the best offensive player in the game right now. He’s a perennial triple crown candidate and finished second in MVP voting two of the last three seasons. There is no doubt that he will be the focal point of the Diamondbacks’ “evolution” this season.

At just 28 years old and with four full seasons under his belt, it’s way to early to say he’s a Hall of Famer. But, when compared to the great first basemen through four full seasons, his numbers are as good or better than any of them were at this point in their careers.

First, let’s see how he does compared to all Hall of Fame first basemen from the modern era:

Paul Goldschmidt:  621 games, .299/.395/.535, 116 home runs, 412 RBI, 67 steals, 151 OPS+, 24.1 bWAR

  • Eddie Murray (1977-1980):    638 games, .291/.353/.486, 111 home runs, 398 RBI, 23 steals, 133 OPS+, 16.8 bWAR
  • Frank Thomas (1990-1994):   644 games, .326/.449/.590 142 home runs, 484 RBI, 13 steals, 184 OPS+ 28.8 bWAR
  • Hank Greenberg (1930-1937) 589 games, .328/.408/.600 115 home runs, 591 RBI, 28 steals, 157 OPS+, 24.8 bWAR
  • Willie McCovey (1959-1963): 502 games, .282/.362/.549 108 home runs, 295 RBI, 8 steals, 150 OPS+, 15.8 bWA
  •      Jimmie Foxx (1925-1931): 656 games, .328/.421/.591, 116 home runs, 498 RBI, 26 steals, 154 OPS+, 25.5 bWAR
  •      George Sisler (1915-1919): 613 games, .333/.374/.444, 21 home runs, 281 RBI, 154 steals, 146 OPS+, 23.7 bWAR
  •      Tony Perez (1964-1968): 531 games, .276/.324/.445, 60 home runs, 281 RBI, 4 steals, 113 OPS+, 9.1 bWAR
  •      Johnny Mize (1936-1939): 573 games, .346/.425/.605, 99 home runs, 416 RBI, 3 steals, 173 OPS+, 26.2 bWAR
  • Harmon Killebrew (1954-1962): 695 games, .257/.367/.532 178 home runs, 463 RBI, 6 steals, 138 OPS+, 15.2 bWAR
  •            George Kelly (1915-1923): 717 games, .293/.339/.451 69 home runs, 447 RBI, 38 steals, 112 OPS+, 10.4 bWAR
  •               Lou Gehrig (1923-1928): 613 games, .343/.438/.671, 111 home runs, 510 RBI, 26 steals, 177 OPS+, 31.7 bWAR
  •        Jim Bottomley (1922-1926): 615 games, .337/.389/.532 67 home runs, 488 RBI, 19 steals, 140 OPS+, 15.9 bWAR

Goldschmidt has a better batting average than Eddie Murray, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez and George Kelly did through four full seasons. He has more home runs than every Hall of Famer through four full seasons except for Frank Thomas and Harmon Killibrew. Goldy also does will in the advanced analytics with the seventh-highest OPS+ and the sixth-best bWAR. So just to sum: Goldschmidt has a higher bWAR than Eddie Murray and Willie McCovey, did at the same point in their careers. He also has a higher bWAR than George Kelly and Tony Perez– combined.

Now let’s stack him up with some guys who could be in the Hall soon:

Paul Goldschmidt: 621 games, .299/.395/.535, 116 home runs, 412 RBI, 67 steals, 151 OPS+, 24.1 bWAR

  • Mark McGwire (1986-1990): 623 games, .253/.356/.512, 156 home runs, 429 RBI 4 steals, 142 OPS+, 16.9 bWAR
  • Fred McGriff (1986-1990):     578 games, .278/.389/.530 125 home runs, 305 RBI, 21 steals, 153 OPS+, 19.3 bWAR
  • Jim Thome (1991-1996):         500 games, .288/.408/.541, 133 home runs, 386 RBI, 15 steals, 145 OPS+, 21.9 bWAR
  • Jeff Bagwell (1991-1994):        570 games   .309/.394/.520, 92 home runs, 382 RBI, 45 steals, 155 OPS+, 23.0 bWAR
  • Todd Helton (1997-2001):       665 games, .334/.414/.622 156 home runs, 514 RBI, 22 steals, 140 OPS+, 22.4 bWAR

Goldschmidt has a higher batting average than all of these players except Bagwell and Helton. He has the third-most RBI of this group and by far the most steals. He also performs better in the advanced analytics than any of these players. All four of these players, except McGwire and maybe McGriff, will eventually become Hall of Famers.

Goldy also does well compared to three modern contemporaries, who have each put up borderline Hall of Fame stats:

Paul Goldschmidt: 621 games, .299/.395/.535, 116 home runs, 412 RBI, 67 steals, 151 OPS+, 24.1 bWAR

  • Albert Pujols (2001-2004): 629 games, .333/.413/.624 160 home runs, 504 RBI, 13 steals, 167 OPS+, 29.2 bWAR
  • Ryan Howard (2004-2009): 732 games, .279/.376/.586 222 home runs, 640 RBI, 10 steals, 143 OPS+, 17.0 bWA
  • Prince Fielder (2005-2009): 675 games, .284/.381/.550, 160 home runs, 453 RBI, 14 steals, 140 OPS+, 10.7 bWAR

This is the strongest of the three listed groups of first baseman, and Goldschmidt finds himself with fewer home runs, and RBI than all of these players. However, his average and advanced analytics are second to just Pujols– who arguably had the best first 11 season-run in MLB history.

The Diamondbacks need to cherish the time they have Goldschmidt under contract. He is possibly the most underplayed player in sports–any sport– with a $5.85 million salary this season. That’s tied with Alejandro De Aza for the 209th-highest in all of baseball. And nobody’s comparing Alejandro De Aza to Lou Gehrig.

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