Scrap That Scrappiness, It’s Goldschmidt Time
It was obvious that the Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton with the intention of constructing a 1-8 lineup that would dink and dunk their way to infield singles, scrappy walks and “line-moving.” The era of waiting for one supremely talented hitter to wreak the brunt of the havoc was closed more emphatically than a Martin Prado bro-hug.
Except, something funny happened on the way to the grit parade. Schmidt. Repeatedly, without mercy, Schmidt has happened this season. Not only has Paul Goldschmidt made D-back fans forget about the years when one guy was supposed to carry the offense, he has, well, singlehandedly carried Arizona’s offense this year. And it’s awesome.
Goldschmidt is a completely different kind of run-producing machine than Upton or Mark Reynolds, another franchise tentpole who couldn’t stand up against the wind of his own empty home-run swing. He fouls off pitches, works deep into counts, drives the ball the other way and does a lot of things that earn baseball “dirt workers” endless praise, except he also hits 420 foot grand slams. This shot into Sosa territory at Wrigley Field earlier this month was one of four go-head homers in the 8th inning or later, most in baseball. Say what you will about clutchness, but it’s helped Goldschmidt to the top of the WPA leaderboard, and by a bunch.
And it’s not a fluke either. Scouts and writers, most notably Keith Law, saw a big lumbering first baseman raking in the minor leagues and embraced the trope, pointing out his “long swing” and defensive ineptitude, two things that have been proven so false in the major leagues that they were probably made up. Goldschmidt was called up in 2011 after leading the minors in homers, then began terrorizing Tim Lincecum so badly that he de-mulleted him.
Goldschmidt is in the top-5 of almost every notable offensive category, new-school or otherwise, and his NL-leading 58 RBIs on June 10th just look really cool. He’s also behind Brandon Belt in All-Star voting for first basemen, so we can all have a laugh about that – yet another way that Goldschmidt makes us feel good inside.
Despite all the numbers, which are only improving as the season’s gone on (Upton here, Upton here), he inexplicably continues to be put in positions to wild out. He has three intentional walks even though Miguel Montero usually hits behind him, and I don’t think I can even count on one hand the number of times pitchers actively pitched around him. On Friday against the Giants, Goldschmidt accounted for all the D-backs’ offense with a go-ahead 3-run homer with 2 outs in the 8th off of Jeremy Affeldt, a lefty that Bruce Bochy kept in the game because reasons.
This is my absolute favorite Goldschmidt at-bat of the season though, and a perfect crash-course in why this guy is so great.
13 pitch at-bats like this are not the norm for guys who finish them with bombs into nightclubs. But they are the norm for Paul Goldschmidt, MVP front-runner in the National League so far this season. And if the Diamondbacks want to live the rest of the year by the tried-and-true baseball mantra of grit-em-on, scrap-em-over, Goldschmidt-em-in, that’s fine by me.