Paul Goldschmidt is a Cardinal. I have to keep telling myself that as if it's true - because it is. I always thought of him as someone I would love having as a Cardinal, but was someone akin to Mike Trout or Nolan Arenado in terms of being able to actually get him here. So, I have to keep telling myself that it's really true. It won't seem like it until I see him start a game at first or come to the plate for the first time, of course.
In 2018, Paul Goldschmidt got off to a bad start. While he started better than Matt Carpenter, it was about the same duration. Carpenter really took off on May 16th or so and never looked back (until September when he fizzled out again, and harder. Goldschmidt had an OPS of .675 as of May 22nd. That was 48 games into the 2018 campaign. He then went on a 19-game streak of 1.333 OPS ball that got him over the .875 OPS mark on the year for good (for the last 95 games of the season). He had a 46 game on base streak later in the season. For reference, we were pretty stoked when Carpenter's reached 35 games last year. Goldschmidt's was 31% longer. Goldschmidt's lasted 28.4% of the season!
Well, that's what Paul Goldschmidt can bring to the table. He flat out gets on base. He has some serious pop that goes with it, too. Marcell Ozuna had two months with 10 extra base hits last year. Jose Martinez had two months with 12 extra base hits last year. Here are Goldschmidt's XBH totals by month: 13, 6, 19, 10, 15, 10
Yeah. One of those said 19. Goldschmidt had a 43 game stretch in the middle of the year in which he had 29 XBH. That's carrying a team for sure. Oh, and by OPS+ 2018 was only Goldschmidt's 5th best year (of 8). By OBP? his 6th best year. By BA? his 6th best year. Better can be ahead.
Now, Goldschmidt hit in a place that until 2018 was notoriously great for hitting extra base hits, especially homers. Everyone hits well in the desert it seems. This spray chart shows a layover of Busch III, however. Only 5 of his homers wouldn't have been out at Busch Stadium III - at least by distance. Who knows how it would actually turn out based on all other factors (stadium elevation, wind, etc.). The other interesting thing, to me, to note here is that Goldschmidt has hit all types of pitches out of the park. To me it seems like most of those home runs have come off of a 4-seamer (grey on the key, but red on the chart) or the sinker, but there are plenty of slider, curve balls, and change ups (also grey on the key but green on the chart) that I can pick out pretty clearly. He's just flat out a good hitter. How good, though?
In 600 PA, the average 1st baseman in 2014-2018 hit:
In 600 PA, the average #2 and #3 hitters in 2014-2018 hit:
Since I don't know where Goldschmidt will be hitting, I'm highlighting both the 2nd and 3rd spots in the order above.
My line for Goldschmidt has him getting 675 PA:
675 PA .291/.397/.531/.928 with
103 runs, 34 doubles, 4 triples, 32 homers, 98 RBI
23.3% K rate, 13.9% BB rate, 16 SB, 4 CS
He basically trumps everything above, even steals. Craziness. That's how good Paul Goldschmidt is. That’s the type of hitter Mozeliak and Dewitt and Girsch and Shildt went out and got. Boom!
How/If things go wrong:
So how could this projection be very, very wrong? Well, Goldschmidt is entering his age 31 season. He started slowly in 2018. What happens if that starting slowly turns into 6 weeks (like Carpenter) instead of 3 weeks? His OPS dips closer to .850 than .925 (or worse?) What happens if he gets hurt as he gets older. He doesn’t get the PAs. Gyorko or Munoz have to share time at third base with a likely sub-.800 OPS. What happens if he slows down as he gets older? Those 38 non-HR xbh are suspect at that point as are the 16 projected steals. Etc. Same as any aging player.
What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?"
Well, these numbers are actually slightly lower than his career numbers and in Goldschmidt’s 7 full seasons in the majors he’s had a higher average in 5 of them, a higher OBP in 4 of them, a higher SLG in 5 of them, a higher OPS in 4 of them, a higher doubles total in 5 of them, a higher triples total once, a higher HR total in 4 of them, a higher RBI total in 3 of them, a higher runs total in 2 of them (tied in 2 others), and a higher SB total in 4 of them. He’s been there before, folks. He’s been better quite often so far in his career.