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2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Review # 2, Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt likes a good challenge.

Paul Goldschmidt, after a 2-run homer
Paul Goldschmidt, after a 2-run homer
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
  • Date of birth: September 10, 1987
  • 2017 line: 155 games, 665 PA, .297/.404/.563 = .966 OPS
  • 2017 value: 5.8 bWAR
  • 2017 salary: $8.875 Million, under contract thru 2018, team option 2019, free agent 2020
  • SnakePit rating: 9.46

2017 analysis

Awards. No review of Paul Goldschmidt could be worthy without at least a brief summary of his many awards – see the following table.

Goldschmidt Awards

Awards 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Awards 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Gold Glove G G G
Fielding Bible - First Base G G G
Wilson Defensive Player - First Base G
Silver Slugger G G G
Hank Aaron Award - NL best hitter G
Performance of the Year -  AZ SnakePit.   Aug 13: tying HR in 9th, walk-off HR in 11th,+79.8% WPA G
Luis Gonzalez Award - talent, spirit, and heart G G
Most Valuable Player -                   AZ SnakePit   G G G G
Top-3 in MLB MVP ballot G G G
MLB All Star G G G G G

How were his stats compared to his peers? If leaderboards on Baseball Reference website are any indication (they are), he continues to be great compared to the field!

  • For offense, he was on 22 leaderboards for the NL, and 14 for MLB (includes both leagues). Perhaps the most overlooked stat was that he tied Myers with the highest Power-Speed number (24.0). This measure compares players who are great at stealing bases and hitting home runs. Other D-backs who have placed first are AJ Pollock (2015) and Mark Reynolds (2009).
  • For fielding at first base in the NL, he was first in Total Zone Runs (15), second in Range Factor per 9 innings (9.45), and third in fielding percentage (.997). For fielding at all positions, Goldy was second in putouts (1254), and third in Total Zone Runs.

So how is he doing compared to his previous seasons? Two stats are career highs - his hard hit percentage (44.3%) and his home run per fly ball (24.8%).

  • His 36 home runs matched his career high from 2013. Many stats are comparable to 2013 - RBIs (120, 125), BABIP(.343,.343), OPS(.966, .952), and BA/OBP/SLG (.297/.404/.563, .302/.401/.551).
  • Although in 2017 there were similarities to 2013, there was a significant improvement – when he puts the first pitch in play, he doubled his rate of RBIs and tripled his rate of homers (see table). Also, his defensive UZR/150 was 4.6, which was better than 2013 (4.4), and nearly the same as his 2015 career high of 4.7, when he won the Wilson Defensive Player award.

First Pitch Ball-In-Play, Goldschmidt

Year PAs with Balls in Play RBI/PA HR/PA OBP SLG
Year PAs with Balls in Play RBI/PA HR/PA OBP SLG
2017 66 .35 .14 .424 .922
2016 63 .25 .08 .381 .733
2015 62 .31 .11 .452 .883
2014 43 .23 .02 .419 .750
2013 62 .15 .05 .403 .710
Data from Baseball Reference website

In summary, Paul Goldschmidt had a career best season in many ways.

An MRI. In September, he had some elbow inflammation. An MRI assuaged the worry. Perhaps he does not start in 12 games (precautionary rest days) next season. Nevertheless, I expect that he will remain healthy.

Highlight of his Regular Season. My choice was the 3 August game against the Cubs because he did something he had never done and because of his comment after the game.

For his first time in his career, Paul Goldschmidt hit 3 homers in a game. Two of the homers were with full counts and with the game tied so they made an impact. And that’s not all he did. His lead-off walk in the eighth inning had a Win Probability Added (WPA) of 9%, and eventually he scored the tying run on a Lamb single. In total, his offensive WPA was 74.5% for the game. After the game, he said he felt rewarded by the team win, and said it was a good challenge.

2018 prospects

Paul Goldschmidt plays first base for the Diamondbacks for the next two seasons. That fact is set in stone, barring injury or a complete team tear-down.

Three questions are complex and interesting:

Can the D-backs sign an awesome hitter to pair with Goldschmidt in the batting line-up? It depends on GM Mike Hazen. He impressed me with his affordable addition of JD Martinez. JD Martinez will command a king’s ransom, and will almost certainly not return. Can Hazen find another awesome hitter who is affordable and fits on the team?

Will Goldschmidt’s contract be extended this year? It depends on budget. Instead of rehashing the budget dilemmas that the D-backs face, let’s presume that salary relief would be needed (think trading Greinke or Tomas) before extending Goldschmidt’s contract.

  • The D-backs certainly want to extend him because he is a fan-favorite and the face of the franchise.
  • Because the D-backs are building a team that can consistently play in the post-season, Goldschmidt would likely feel good about extending his contract.

Will Goldschmidt contend for the MVP award in 2018? In 2017 he was voted third; he is in the right ballpark. His health is great.

He will contend for three reasons:

  • In 2017, he was on 22 NL offensive leader boards.
  • In 2017, his defense was arguably the best in the NL.
  • He is not yet in decline. In 2017, his stats showed career-highs in a) hard hit percent, b) homeruns per fly ball, and c) first-pitch in-play results.

The next ten months will reveal the answers to these three intriguing questions.