As the Phillies continue their Western road swing with a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they get set to face one of the most talented, and yet one of the most underappreciated players in all of Major League Baseball, Dbacks 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
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Earning his 3rd straight NL All-Star team selection this past July, Goldschmidt has once again been a headache for pitchers throughout baseball, and is building a strong case for the National League MVP award. Compared to others at his position, “Goldy” has been dominant in every aspect of the game.
Coming into a 3-game series with the Phillies, Goldschmidt ranks first among MLB 1st baseman in Hits (132), Average (.337), OBP (.450), Slugging (.577) and OPS (1.027). He is 2nd in RBIs (79) and Walks (85), and has hit the 4th most Homeruns (22).
Playing in Arizona, Goldschmidt hasn’t gotten the recognition as far as media attention that some of the games’ other stars receive, even though he has undoubtedly been the most valuable player to his team. After being picked by the Dbacks in the 8th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of Texas State University, Goldschmidt wasted no time in showing the Arizona brass that he would be their power-hitting 1st baseman of the future.
“…baseball is a pretty humbling game. It will knock you down really quickly. My attitude is, if you’re not getting better, somebody else is.” ~ Goldschmidt
In his first minor league season with the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer Rookie League in 2009, Goldschmidt hit .334 and had 18 bombs and 62 RBI in just 74 games. He also leads the league with a .638 slugging percentage and an absurd 1.045 OPS.
In 2010, with the Visalia Rawhide of the A-Advanced California League, Goldschmidt developed a reputation for being a tough out by blasting 35 home runs and breaking the century mark in RBIs with 108.
After hitting .306 and once again launching 30 homers in his 2011 season with the AA Mobile Baybears, Goldy got the call to the big leagues on the first day of August that season and hasn’t looked back since.
The 6’3’’, 225-pound slugger from Wilmington, Delaware played 48 games as a 23-year-old rookie in the final months of the 2011 season, and performed well down the stretch while taking over 1st base for an Arizona team that would win the NL West division by 8 games with a 94-68 record.
Even with just those 48 games under his belt, Goldschmidt immediately got a taste of playoff baseball, playing four games of a five game series against the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. The playoff stage proved to be one on which the rookie would thrive.
He went 7 for 16 (.438) with two home runs and six RBIs in the series, which ended with the Brewers taking a decisive Game 5. In Game 3 of that series, with the Dbacks up 3-1 and the bases loaded, Goldschmidt belted a pitch from the Brewers’ Shawn Marcum over the right field wall for his first career grand slam.
Putting up a solid first full season in the desert in 2012, he batted .286 with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs. Goldy was rewarded with a 5-year, $32 million contract prior to the 2013 season, and would immediately show the D-Backs brass why he deserved the money.
In that 2013 campaign, Goldschmidt smacked 36 home runs — tied for the most in the NL, and drove in 125 runs, third overall in MLB. Developing as one of the most feared hitters in the game, Goldy was intentionally walked 19 times. He was named an NL All-Star for the first time in his career. He went on to win a Silver Slugger as well as a Gold Glove Award, and Goldschmidt capped his spectacular season with a 2nd place finish in the 2013 NL MVP voting.
In a challenging 2014 season for the Diamondbacks in which they were continually snake-bitten (pardon the pun) by injuries, Goldschmidt himself was forced to go on the DL when he suffered a fractured hand after being hit by a pitch during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in early August.
That freak injury limited the team’s best run-producer to 109 games, and caused him to sit out the final two months of the season. It was a tough break for a player who was batting .300 with 19 round-trippers and 69 RBIs at the time of the injury.
Playing 109 of a possible 110 games this season, Goldschmidt has come back fully healthy, and is back to his old ways at the plate. He currently sports an intimidating .337/.450/.577 slash line.
It would be difficult to find a player in MLB who has meant more to his team than the 27-year-old Goldschmidt has to the Snakes during his time with the club. His 6.05 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranks 5th highest of all MLB players in that time span. If you were to take a look at the D-Backs team batting leaders, Goldschmidt leads the club in almost every major batting category, including batting average, home runs, RBIs, OBP and hits.
But it’s not just at the plate where Goldschmidt has done his damage. The big guy has stolen 19 bases this year, and has swiped a total of 65 bags in his five MLB seasons, impressive for a 6’3’’ first baseman. Defensively in 2015, Goldschmidt owns a .998 fielding percentage, having committed just two errors, and has recorded the most putouts in MLB. He’s also turned the most double plays at his position.
Though he hasn’t gotten the recognition he has deserved for what he’s done on the diamond, that seems to be okay with the franchise cornerstone, who knows you’re only as good as your last game.
“I know I’ve had success, but this is a game of what have you done for me lately,” Goldschmidt told Newsday’s Mike Gavin. “If you think you’ve got it figured out, baseball is a pretty humbling game. It will knock you down really quickly. My attitude is, if you’re not getting better, somebody else is.“
Goldschmidt will likely battle the Nationals’ much more hyped and publicized Bryce Harper down to the wire for that NL MVP this season, and could very well win it. Both have posted identical numbers to this point. If he wants to beat out the Nats’ phenom, Goldy will need to first need to find his way out a recent funk.
After hitting over .300 in every month in the 2015 season, Goldschmidt enters this series struggling mightily during the month of August. In 31 at-bats, he has just six hits and has struck out 13 times.
It may not get better for Goldschmidt this series, as the Phillies are a team he has historically not fared well against. For his career, Goldy is 14 for 80 (.175) against the Phils in 24 games. In the 3-game series at Citizens Bank Park in May, he had two hits in 11 at-bats, with one of the hits being a home run.
The Phillies will send Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Aaron Nola to the mound in the series against Goldschmidt and the Snakes which begins Monday night. Goldschmidt is 6 for 15 with two doubles and two home runs lifetime off Harang, but has yet to face Buchanan and Nola. First pitch Monday at Chase Field in Phoenix is set for 9:40 pm EDT.