The past three years
Insert witty "Gold" reference here...
Hey, it's spring training: whaddya expect? For 2014, there's no doubt Goldschmidt will be good. Indeed, very good. But will he be as insanely good as he was last year? Because anything less than the seven WAR player he represented for the Diamondbacks in 2013 will, effectively, be a downgrade at the position, something the team can ill-afford as they try to bridge the eleven-game gap by which they trailed the Dodgers last season. It won't be easy. Do you know how many other Arizona position players have ever had even a single seven WAR season? One: Luis Gonzalez in 2001. Know how valuable Justin Upton was in 2011? That would not be good enough
Or put another way, how many NL players put up seven WAR in both 2012 and 2013? One: Andrew McCutchen. That gives you some idea of the difficulty facing Goldschmidt in 2014: living up to the extremely-high standard he set last year will require not just talent, but continuing good luck, in the form of excellent health. He has pretty much been an ever-present since we drafted him:
- 2009, Missoula - 74 of 76 games
- 2010, Visalia - 138 of 140 games
- 2011, Mobile + Arizona - 151 games
- 2012, Arizona - 145 of 162 games
- 2013, Arizona - 156 of 162 games
He had three days off at the end of September 2012. I might have missed something, but as far as I can see, that's the only time he has missed consecutive games since turning professional. Of course, first-base is a relatively low-impact defensive position [little need to crash into walls, no hitters sliding in to the base]. But we can only keep our fingers crossed he remains Paul Ironschmidt, and we don't get any freak injuries, comparable to the one which took Aaron Hill out of action, for much of the first half last season.
Assuming he stays healthy, will his performance be up to scratch. His BABIP was well above league average, at .343 compared to league average of .297. However, that's right in line with Goldie's career number of .340, and is likely a function of his hefty line-drive rate - 28%, compared to 24%. If he keeps making such good contact, his BABIP should also remain on the upside. I note the remarkable parity across the projection systems, particularly in regard to his expected number of home-runs, walks and runs scored: all within one of each other, and even projecting the same number of hits, to within a handful. Somehow, I find the agreement quite comforting!
It won't be easy for Goldschmidt to reproduce his amazing campaign from last year. However, I strongly believe, if anybody can, it's Paul. Every season, we've expected more from him; and every season, he has not only delivered more, he has surpassed all those expectations. On that basis, this year isn't so different from the preceding ones, it's just the bar has been set significantly higher. Obviously, there has to be a ceiling to his talents somewhere, and it's too much to hope that Goldschmidt will reach a Troutian level of performance this year. But I'm pretty sure he's going to continue to make that long-term deal, the one Kevin Towers move we can all agree was excellent!