Paul Goldschimdt: Diamondbacks First Baseman Heating Up
By Randy Holt
The month of May brought about some serious offensive issues for baseball’s club out of the desert, but with the team figuring it out here in early June, could they be on the rise?
The Arizona Diamondbacks limped through much of May, especially in the second half. Injuries to their lineup and their starting staff have really hampered this team, especially on the offensive side. Those struggles were highlighted by their highest-profile player, in Paul Goldschmidt, mired in the woes of a tremendous down year. Nobody really expected the slugging first baseman to continue struggling through 2018. And with the calendar flipping over to June, he might just be starting to figure it out.
Goldschmidt’s overall numbers on the season paint a rather ugly picture. He’s hitting just .220 on the year, while reaching base at a .335 clip. His strikeout rate is the highest it’s been since his first appearance at the big league level, with a 29.9% rate. His ISO, at .187, is down almost a full 80 points from 2017. By wRC+, he’s been just barely above league average at the plate, with a 104 mark. Compounded with various injuries to the Diamondbacks lineup, Goldschmidt has done the Diamondbacks no favors this year.
However, the last few days have brought a sense of renewed optimism to the Snakes and their first sacker. All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, given that we’re barely into the month of June, but the early returns could bode well for a player with a proven track record of offensive prowess.
Heading into Wednesday afternoon’s tilt with the San Francisco Giants, the D-Backs have won six of their last eight, including Tuesday night’s game against Madison Bumgarner. Could Goldschmidt be ready to regain his form and help the Diamondbacks back to a first place position in the National League West?
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In the last two weeks, Goldschmidt has hit .310 and reached base at a stellar .396 clip. His ISO is at .310 and his wRC+ is at 174. In regard to the latter figure, only Anthony Rizzo and Matt Olson have been better among Major League first basemen. His hard hit rate is astronomical, at 48.4%. His Soft%, at 12.9%, is down quite a bit from his season mark, where he’s a touch over 20%.
The month of June, in particular, has been favorable for Goldy. His wRC+ is at 172, and he’s hit the ball hard at a rate of an even 50.0%. This is while registering zero soft contact, according to FanGraphs. At no point was this more on display than when he launched a double off of Bumgarner on Tuesday that came in at 104.3 MPH off the bat.
Goldschmidt hasn’t posted many glaring numbers that have indicated that this rise couldn’t happen. This is with the exception of his high strikeout rate. But his contact rate and ability to make hard contact have remained relatively similar. There has been the issue with some soft contact, in conjunction with more flyballs. But if he can continue to make hard contact while at the same time elevating the ball, he’s going to be just fine. Which is what we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.
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The Paul Goldschmidt that the Arizona Diamondbacks have seen in the past couple of weeks is far more similar to the one we’ve been accustomed to in the past several years. Perhaps it was a matter of confidence. Perhaps it was a matter of refining a couple of mechanical or approach-related items. Either way, it would certainly appear that the Snakes have their man back. Now they need the rest of the lineup to follow suit consistently.