Choosing your favorite Paul Goldschmidt home-run is like choosing your favorite child. They’re all wonderful - though it’s probably fortunate I don’t have 209 kids, plus four more in the playoffs... Still, there are some which particularly stand out in the memory. Here are five of the finest, each special in their own way. Like my children. :)
The first as a Diamondback: February 26, 2011 vs. Rockies
His first major-league home-run might have had to wait until August 2, but his first in a Diamondback uniform came during spring training that year. It was the first ever game played at the new Salt River Fields complex, but our housemates had a 7-2 lead going into the last of the ninth. Not so fast: with two outs and two men on, Goldschmidt clubbed a three-run homer to tie the game: not the last such heroic in a D-backs jersey, of course. Unfortunately, Charlie Blackmon gave the Rockies the lead back in the tenth, off something called a Daniel Stange [hey, it was the second game of spring training], but it was a moment I’ll never forget.
August 2, 2011, vs. Giants. His first “proper” HR came in his ninth game, off - who else? - Tim Lincecum. It was the start of a beautiful relationship (Lincecum may disagree). In his time here, Goldy went 15-for-28 with seven HR off Timmeh, a slash of .536/.559/1.357 and an OPS of 1.916
Most epic at-bat: May 7, 2013 vs. Dodgers
When Goldschmidt goes really deep into the count, he has pitchers just where he wants them. In 23 PA which lasted 10+ pitches, he is 6-for-14 with eight walks, and three home-runs. None of the last-named were more dramatic than this ninth-inning at-bat against Dodgers’ closer Brandon League, in a tied game with one out and a man on first. After falling behind 1-2 on a pair of swinging strikes, Goldschmidt first laid off a couple of offerings out of the zone, working the count back to full, then fouled off five consecutive pitches on 3-2 from League, before the pitcher blinked, on the eleventh pitch of the plate appearance. Goldschmidt... Not so much.
Ten days later, in Miami, Goldy waited until the 13th pitch against Kevin Slowey to homer. But the D-backs were already 3 runs up there. From the League at-bat through June 14, 2015, in eight PAs lasting ten or more pitches, Paul went: HR, HR, BB, BB, HR, BB, 1B, BB.
Biggest game impact: June 7, 2013 vs. Giants
The Diamondbacks had been entirely stifled by Matt Cain, who had blanked them for seven innings of three-hit ball. His night ended with a lead-off walk to A.J. Pollock in the eighth, and two outs later, Willie Bloomquist drew a walk off Jeremy Affeldt. That brought Goldschmidt to the plate with two men aboard: he took the first couple of pitches for balls, then swatted the third the other way, into about the fourth row of seats in right-field [the goodness starts around the 1:20 mark in the video, if you’re in a rush]. It was worth +66.7% and caused a post-game Affeldt to remark, on the prospect of a possible contract extension, “I just tanked that deal.”
August 11, 2011 vs. Astros. Goldschmidt’s second career home-run was also his only one so far as a pinch-hitter. It was a game-tying two-run shot off Mark Melancon with two outs in the ninth, worth +49.1% of Win Probability.
The longest: August 26, 2015 vs. Cardinals
This category is not as definitive as the others, because home-run distances are more of a best guess. Even now, Statcast data is sometimes a bit wobbly in this area and subject to revision. For example, this one by Goldschmid was originally reported at 482 feet, before being downgraded to a still impressive 471 feet. Still the very definition of a no-doubter, with a batting practice 92-mph fastball from St. Louis’s John Lackey sent back possessing almost another twenty mph of exit velocity. Said Goldy, with his typical approach of self-effacing understatement: “I was just looking for something I could hit... It was kind of up and in and fortunately I was able to get the barrel there.”
May 28, 2014 vs. Padres. Though hittrackeronline.com no longer gives access to its pre-Statcast database, owner Greg Rybarczyk was kind enough to send me the Goldschmidt leaders from that era. The top one came off the Padres’ Troy Patton, and was estimated at 470 feet, likely statistically inseparable in distance from the one off Lackey.
Purely for amusement - and with a clear caveat about the issue of combining two different methodologies - here’s a best guess of Goldy’s ten longest homers as a Diamondback. Links go to the video. Enjoy.
- 471 ft - 2015-08-26 off John Lackey (STL)
- 470 ft - 2014-05-28 off Troy Patton (SDP)
- 466 ft - 2015-08-28 off Pat Venditte (OAK)
- 453 ft - 2017-05-14 off Ivan Nova (PIT)
- 452 ft - 2017-09-10 off Luis Perdomo (SDP)
- 452 ft - 2012-05-27 off Randy Wolf (MIL)
- 450 ft - 2018-06-09 off Chad Bettis (COL)
- 450 ft - 2011-08-11 off Mark Melancon (HOU)
- 448 ft - 2017-06-11 off Rob Scahill (MIL)
- 447 ft - 2013-06-21 off Curtis Partch (CIN)
Most memorable post-season shot: October 4, 2017 vs. Rockies
The first playoff game at Chase since 2011 was a win or go home situation for both sides. And Goldy had been struggling: he’d had an elbow MRI, batted .171 for September and came in hitless in 17 AB, with seven K’s. He was also 0-for-11 lifetime against Colorado starter, Jon Grey. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. In the first inning, Goldschmidt opened the scoring with a three-run shot, helping dispatch Grey early, and the margin in a wild 11-8 win. Typically, Goldy was more annoyed about his subsequent ABs: “It’s not about me. I was able to get the first guy in, but my next two at-bats, I was not able to get the job done when a sac fly would have scored us some runs. It was kind of frustrating.”
October 4, 2011 vs. Brewers. Six years to the day earlier, Goldschmidt had delivered the first grand-slam in Arizona’s playoff history. [The following night, Ryan Roberts hit #2] The only thing probably preventing it from being the winner here, is the D-backs were already 3-1 up.