Paul Goldschmidt is doing great since the All-Star break. But that’s a redundant statement. And it’s not as if he’ll be fully appreciated, anyway. For an old-school baseball town, we tend to get weird about certain players. Goldschmidt is an example.
Yes, Cards fans like Goldy.
Problem is, Cards fans should love Goldy.
He’s actually been doing great since July of 2019, and his statistical profile isn’t that far off from his years as an Arizona Diamondback. But the narrative never seems to change.
He’s aging … still a pretty good hitter and first baseman … but declining … not close to what he was as a Diamondback.
True, Goldschmidt got off to a slow start (by his standards) in his first three months as a Cardinal. He batted .246, had an OK .741 OPS, and drove in 31 runs. The worst thing was his .204 batting average with runners in scoring position through the end of June, 2019.
I’m sorry, but was this really so horrible? St. Louis isn’t Arizona. He had a lot of things to get used to. New team, new town, new teammates, new customs, new culture and a significantly more challenging home ballpark than his setup at Arizona. Cut the guy a break, will ya?
Goldschmidt settled in, adapted, and finished strong in 2019. Starting July1, in his final 330 plate appearances and 288 at-bats of the season, Goldschmidt put up a .908 OPS, clubbed 20 homers and 18 doubles, slugged .552, and delivered 66 RBI. He also batted .286 with a 1.012 OPS with men in scoring position.
From the start of July 2019 through Aug. 30 of this season, Goldschmidt has an adjusted OPS of 136. That means he’s 36 percent above league average offensively over that time. In his nine seasons with Arizona, Goldy’s adjusted OPS was nine points higher, putting him 45 percent above the league average offensively.
A nine-point difference isn’t meaningless. But the relatively slight decrease isn’t the sign of the end of days, or sad and pathetic collapse of a once-formidable hitter.
Goldschmidt has performed below the league average offensively in only two of his last 11 months of baseball for the Cardinals.
One of those months occurred in April of this year. He rebounded. Since the end of April Goldschmidt is batting .305 with a terrific .375 OBP and .518 OPS for a .893 OPS. His profile over the last four months is 42 percent above league average offensively. Yes, that matches his hitting prowess from the Arizona years.
Only three MLB hitters have produced this combination on offense so far this season: at least 27 doubles, a minimum of 22 homers, at least 79 RBI and 10 or more stolen bases.
The three are Jose Ramirez, Ozzie Albies and Paul Goldschmidt.
Since the All Star break, among 97 MLB hitters that have at least 150 plate appearances, Goldschmidt ranks among the top 11 in average, OBP, slugging, OPS, doubles and is 14th in runs batted in.
All in all, his statistical spread since the All-Star break puts him 58 percent above the league average offensively. That ranks No. 10 on that list of 97. And to top all of that, he’s hitting .371 with runners in scoring position since the break.
And don’t forget about Goldy’s defense. This season he’s tied for first among MLB first basemen with seven defensive runs saved. And that doesn’t even account for his splendid touch in scooping low throws, or the way he maneuvers to capture throws that are high or wide.
In his three seasons as a Cardinal Goldschmidt is tied for sixth among big-league first basemen in defensive runs saved. And no MLB first baseman has saved more runs with his defense than Goldy over the last two seasons. (All of that comes from the Fielding Bible.)
Can we talk about Goldshmidt’s baserunning? He’s a big man, listed at 6-3, 220 pounds. And he’s a highly-skilled base runner. According to the net baserunning gain figures at Bill James Online, Goldschmidt was a +19 on the bases in 2019, a +13 in 2020, and is at +21 so far this year. That’s outstanding.
Since coming to the Cardinals Goldschmidt ranks second to Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and LA’s Max Muncy in WAR (wins above replacement) among NL first baseman. And he’s third among regular NL first basemen in OPS+.
Another measure of a player’s value is “Total Runs” which was developed by Fielding Bible. It takes all parts of the game into account. This season Goldschmidt is tied for 18th among hundreds of MLB position players with 102 Total Runs.
Goldy also leads the Cardinals with 19 Win Shares, another value-based system developed by Bill James.
Goldschmidt is a class act. Totally professional, an excellent teammate, unselfish and a standard-setter for competitiveness. He can beat opponents with his power and ability to hit for a high average with runners in scoring position. He can beat opponents with his defense and his baserunning. He’s durable, having played in only one fewer game than Freeman at first base since the outset of 2019.
The Cardinals missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons before making the trade for Goldschmidt. They are two-for-two at making the playoffs since Goldy joined the band. And with Goldschmidt leading the charge, they have a chance to make it three-for-three this season.
We saw Goldy lift his team again Monday night in Cincinnati when he homered in the first inning to give the Cards a 2-0 lead that held firm in a 3-1 win over the Reds. With one game to play in August, Goldschmidt is batting .350 this month with a 1.004 OPS, 15 extra–base hits and 24 RBI.
I appreciate athletes who don’t waste countless hours online in a desperate attempt to become “influencers” on Instagram. Goldschmidt isn’t noisy, showy, or an attention-seeking hound. He’s a pleasant guy, polite, and a bit on the quiet side. Before our culture turned foaming-at-the-mouth insane, those were considered admirable qualities.
When the Cardinals win, Goldy never makes it about him; it’s always about the team. He just plays ball, and plays it skillfully in all phases of the game.
Goldschmidt proudly represents the Birds on the Bat, and Cardinal fans should be proud that he wears their iconic emblem.
Thanks for reading…
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* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.