Some baseball viewers must believe Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is hidden under the Imperial Sand Dunes.
Seriously. Goldschmidt was tabbed as a reserve on the National League All-Star team, chosen on the players’ ballot. However, fans voted in Washington Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman as the starter instead. Plus, Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who wasn’t even selected to the event, received more fan votes than Goldschmidt in the final ballot update.
The 32-year-old Zimmerman has strung together the highest OPS (.988) of his career, albeit at the midway point of the season, along with 19 home runs and 62 RBI. Yet Goldschmidt still sits a spot ahead of him in that category (1.025). Zimmerman’s selection looks even more confusing when looking at the rest of Goldschmidt’s underappreciated numbers.
Goldschmidt ranks second in the majors in OBP (.437), trailing only New York Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge. For context, that number puts him in line with seasons from 26-year-old Hank Greenberg (.436), 20-year-old Ted Williams (.436), 32-year-old George Brett (.436) and 32-year-old Frank Thomas (.435) in that department, all of whom are Hall of Famers.
Those were some of their best seasons, too. Greenberg hit 40 homers while driving in a career-high 184 RBI, Williams racked up 31 homers and 145 RBI, Brett produced 30 home runs with 112 RBI and Thomas delivered 43 homers and a career-high 143 RBI.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 2, 2017
If Goldschmidt’s OBP remains above .400 for the remainder of this season, he’d be the 16th player to accomplish that feat in four of his first seven seasons since 1947. Some of the others include Los Angeles Angels’ first baseman Albert Pujols, the aforementioned Thomas, Jackie Robinson and Lance Berkman.
His career OBP (.402) delivers an even better representation of his consistency, placing the 29-year-old in a tie with Jim Thome and Lu Blue for 15th all-time among first baseman. That’s higher than Jason Giambi (.399), John Olerud (.398), Miguel Cabrera (.397) and Mark McGwire (.394), too.
“I don’t want to say he’s underrated because he is spectacular, but you don’t know what’s happening in Arizona or on the West Coast when you spend all your time on the East Coast (because) you’re asleep when the games are over,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “And you know the name ‘Paul Goldschmidt,’ but when you get a chance to watch what he does and the value that he has outside of standing in the batter’s box, you can’t measure it.”
Paul Goldschmidt with the 420' SOLO SHOT to tie the game up at 2-2 #DBacks
— Around The Bases POD (@AroundBasesPOD) June 29, 2017
Outside of standing in the batter’s box, once the 6-foot-3, 225-pound machine steps on base, he seemingly turns into the next Rickey Henderson. All right, we won’t go that far. But Goldschmidt is tied with Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Jarrod Dyson for third in FanGraphs‘ BsR (5.6), delivering a player’s value while on the base paths.
According to FanGraphs, Gordon (3.86) and Dyson (3.99) were two of the quickest runners from home to first in 2016. Goldschmidt (4.44) ranked 178th out of 210 qualified players. Nevertheless, Mike Petriello of MLB.com pegged his average lead distance at any base to be 11.73 feet, ranking top-15 in the league.
Furthermore, that distance jumps to 14.74 feet when Goldschmidt plans on swiping a bag, leading to his 13 stolen bases. No other first baseman has eclipsed double-figures in that area. Evidently, he’s one of the smartest players on the bases given his imposing size.
Beyond his track record of darting along the infield dirt, Goldschmidt places second in position players’ WAR (3.7) this season, once again behind the aforementioned Judge. A chunk of value is due to his high RBI (66) and runs (71) totals, ranking first in each category. On top of that, he’s fourth in FanGraphs‘ wRC+ (158), which determines how many runs a player is worth to his team after discounting various ballparks’ advantages.
Although he’s tied for seventh in the league in home runs (19), one of his more “modest” stats doesn’t come close to discrediting his entire output. Especially when his moonshots are on display. In fact, the Delaware native drills the ball about as hard as anyone, regardless of where it ends up, averaging the eighth-best exit velocity (92.3).
Put your fan favorites aside. Goldschmidt deserves the NL MVP at this rate.