In his informative baseball newsletter, analyst Joe Sheehan recently pointed out something that hadn’t occurred to me: with first baseman Todd Helton voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2024, that bodes well for Paul Goldschmidt.

For quality of career, Goldschmidt is right there with Helton and tops the former Rockies star in several meaningful categories. But that’s not all. The same career comparison applies to first baseman Fred McGriff, who was inducted in 2023. Goldschmidt’s career profile is superior to McGriff’s in a number of ways.

And Goldschmidt isn’t done. As Goldy prepares for his 14th major-league season and sixth with the Cardinals, the distinguished first baseman is in position to reinforce his Hall of Fame case.

No question about it, the selections of Helton and McGriff should enhance Goldschmidt’s Cooperstown case.

Let’s compare. I’m not using counting stats, simply because of career longevity. Goldschmidt is still competing and hasn’t played in as many games or taken as many plate appearances as Helton and McGriff.

Goldschmidt has played 13 big-league seasons – four fewer than Helton, and six less than McGriff. Naturally, Helton and McGriff have better counting stats – hits, home runs, doubles, RBI, etc. – than Goldy. But Goldschmidt has time to narrow the counting-stat gap. It’s important to reach 2,000 career hits, and Goldschmidt needs only 91 more to get there.

Helton had the advantage of playing half his career games in the hitter haven of Coors Field, and that edge inflated his batting average, onbase percentage and slugging percentage.

I don’t say that to disparage Helton, but Goldschmidt hasn’t had an opportunity to generate a full career of Coors-impacted digits. For what it’s worth, Goldschmidt’s batting average, onbase percentage and slugging percentage at Coors are higher than Helton’s Coors numbers in the respective categories.

But there’s a way to remove the Coors Factor from consideration. The OPS+ metric adjusts for ballpark effects and neutralizes the stats for a more accurate assessment.

And away we go …

Hall of Fame Value Standard: This was devised by the great Bill James and measures Hall of Fame worthiness. A 500 score is the standard. Helton had 565.2, McGriff 552.4, and Goldschmidt is at 550.8 – and still counting. Over the last three seasons Goldschmidt has averaged 49.8 points in the James Hall of Fame metric and should have no problem surpassing McGriff and Helton.

Wins Above Replacement, or WAR: Helton 61.8, Goldschmidt 61.7, McGriff 52.6. The average career WAR for Hall of Fame first basemen is 64.8, so Goldschmidt is getting close. This is the Baseball Reference version of WAR, which is used by Jay Jaffe in his Hall of Fame analyses. Among first basemen eligible for the Hall of Fame, only two have accrued more than 61 career WAR without being voted in: Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Goldschmidt’s current career WAR is better than 14 first basemen honored in Cooperstown.

7-Year Peak WAR: The established Hall of Fame standard is 42.0 WAR for a seven-year career peak. Helton had a seven-year career peak of 46.6 WAR, Goldschmidt is at 45.1, and McGriff had 36.0. Goldy is already qualified in this category.

OPS+: 143 for Goldy which is 10 percent higher than Helton, and nine percent higher than McGriiff. Goldschmidt’s current career OPS+ is superior to that of 14 Hall of Fame first basemen and is tied with another.

wRC+: Similar to OPS+, this metric neutralizes performance stats by adjusting for park and league effects. The result is a sharper picture. Per wRC+ Goldschmidt is 42 percent above league average offensively for his career. McGriff was 34% above league average; Helton was 32% above the average.

Batting Titles: One for Helton.

Baserunning: Here’s something we really should know, because it shows Goldschmidt’s all-purpose value as a player. Per the FanGraphs metric — baserunning runs above average — Goldschmidt has the best grade by a first baseman during the expansion era, which began in 1961. Goldy is +34.4 baserunning runs above average. McGriff (minus 8.6) and Helton (minus 35.3) were below-average runners.

MVP Awards: Goldschmidt was voted National League MVP in 2022 and has three other top-three finishes. McGriff and Helton never won an MVP. McGriff never finished higher than fourth in the voting. Helton never finished better than fifth.

Career MVP Voting Points: Basically it’s a rout. And this large gap verifies Goldschmidt’s credentials for a place in the Hall of Fame. Here are the MVP point totals:

Goldschmidt  1,367

McGriff   533

Helton   403

This is a huge distinction for Goldschmidt’s Hall of Fame resume. Goldy already established a massive advantage over Helton and McGriff in career MVP voting points, and he’s done it while playing 473 MLB games less than Helton and 686 fewer games than McGriff. How could voters give a thumbs-down to Goldschmidt after comparing his career MVP strength to the last two first basemen enshrined in Cooperstown?

Goldschmidt’s current Hall of Fame vote share ranks 10th among first basemen in MLB history. At the position this puts him ahead of Hall of Fame inductees Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Jim Thome, Jeff Bagwell, George Sisler, Johnny Mize, Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Joe Torre, David Ortiz, George Kelly and Gil Hodges. Ortiz was mostly used at DH so we can scratch him from the list if that works better for you.

All-Star Games: Goldschmidt 7. Helton and McGriff each had five.

Gold Glove Awards: Goldschmidt 4, Helton 3, and none for McGriff.

Silver Slugger Awards: Goldschmidt 5, Helton 4, McGriff 3.

Postseason: Let’s give the prize to McGriff, who had  a .303 average, .917 OPS and 10 home runs in 50 games. Goldschmidt has a .261 average, .909 OPS and eight homers in 23 games. Helton struggled with a .188 average, 584 OPS and no home runs in 15 games.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Goldschmidt will do in 2024 at age 36. His five-year, $130 million contract expires after the season. An extension is possible, but both sides are taking the wait–and-see approach. That isn’t a big deal right now – but this is a big year for Goldy.

For all the talk about Goldschmidt’s standard hitting numbers being down from his 2022 MVP season, we shouldn’t overlook the parts of the profile that confirm his strength and vitality when swinging the bat.

This information should be a source of encouragement for the Cardinals and their fans. If last season is an indication, it looks like Goldschmidt has a lot of good baseball left in him.

* Goldschmidt’s hard-hit rate (50.8%) last season was his highest since MLB began tracking statcast data in 2015.

* The 2023 Goldschmidt topped the 2022 MVP Goldschmidt in average exit velocity, sweet-spot contact, barrel-rate percentage, line drive rate, walk rate, expected batting average and expected slugging percentage.

* Defensively Goldschmidt was tied for sixth among MLB first basemen with three Outs Above Average in 2023. He was also sixth at the position in defensive runs saved.

* The Cardinals were one of the worst baserunning teams in the majors last season with an extra-bases taken percentage (XBT) of 40%. Don’t blame Goldy. Last season his XBT of 56% ranked 10th in the National League and 14th overall.

Since joining the Cardinals in a trade before the 2019 season, Goldschmidt ranks second among major-league first basemen in WAR and wRC+. He may not reach his 2022 MVP numbers again, but doing so was never realistic. He’s still a top-five first baseman in the majors. The future Hall of Famer is still playing at a high level in all phases of the game. The man is a class act, and I’m pulling for him to have a first-rate 2024.

Goldschmidt had many outstanding seasons for Arizona but let me be selfish and say it would be nice to have Goldy enter the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal. If is this Goldy’s final year in St. Louis, take some time to appreciate him. He’ll be another Hall of Fame player in the Cardinal family, and we had a chance to watch him play here for six seasons.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link. We recorded a new podcast on Feb. 21 and it’s still fresh and available for you.

All stats used in this baseball column were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, and Fielding Bible.

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Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.