PHOENIX (AP) — No one in the majors, no position player anyway, is having a better season than Paul Goldschmidt.
He leads both leagues in hitting (.356) and on-base percentage (.474). He is at or near the top in virtually every other offensive category. And he might be the best defensive first baseman in the game, too.
Yet national attention, such as that showered on Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, eludes the man his Arizona teammates call “America’s First Baseman.”
Of course, Goldschmidt being Goldschmidt, he says “I couldn’t care less.”
“Maybe that’s not the right choice of words but it’s just not something I concern myself with,” Goldschmidt said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said he pays no attention whether he’s going “bad or good.”
Good is an understatement to describe Goldschmidt’s season.
He entered Monday with 19 home runs, many in critical situations, was tied for second in the majors with 57 RBIs and ranked second in slugging percentage (.656)
Goldschmidt was leading the majors in walks (55). A major league-high 16 were intentional.
He has 12 stolen bases.
And he said he spends no inordinate amount of time studying pitchers.
“For the majority of your life, up until the big leagues, you never had any video or scouting reports,” Goldschmidt said, “so I think it could be too easy to try to use that stuff and you could be in the box overthinking. So for me, there’s some research you can do but for the most part just try to see the ball and hit the ball. I just try to see it out of his hand and look for something in the middle of the plate and put a big swing on it.”
The same philosophy spreads to his statistics. He vows that he never looks at them, even though they are posted well within eyesight in the ballpark.
“I make a conscious decision to not look at any of those stats,” Goldschmidt said. “Stats are what’s happened in the past. They’re not going to have any bearing on what’s going to happen tonight.”
Except the law of averages indicates good things often happen with Goldschmidt at the plate. His teammates know it and expect it.
When Goldschmidt homered and made a pair of diving stops in a win over the Los Angeles Angels recently, pitcher Chase Anderson said simply, “Goldy does Goldy things.”
His home runs can be almost Giancarlo Stanton-like, but he is far from just a power hitter.
Goldschmidt hits to all fields, obviously for a high average, and declines to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.
“I just try to hit,” he said. “If I go up there trying to hit a homer or double, it’s usually a strikeout or a groundball. I just try to hit a hard line drive and hopefully they don’t catch it, and if you get under it and it goes out, all the better.”
A broken hand cut short his 2014 season. Healthy this year, he has been better than ever before. And before, he was terrific.
Goldschmidt’s lack of notoriety partly stems from where he plays. Phoenix is not a small market. It’s the sixth-largest city in the country. But it’s the desert southwest and no major media center.
And his Diamondbacks, while vastly improved from the worst record in baseball a year ago and hovering around .500, have not known playoff success in years.
Then, of course, there’s his low-key personality. Hard to imagine Goldschmidt lingering to admire a home run or even thumping his chest in bravado.
Although manager Chip Hale said Goldschmidt is not so quiet around the team, assuming a leadership role that he knows must go with his on-field success.
“He’s more vocal than I think people think with his teammates,” the first-year manager said. “If something needs to be said, if somebody’s not hustling, he’ll say something. Sometimes I’ve heard him say, ‘Let’s worry about hitting and not what the umpire is calling.’ I think he’s become even more and more that way since he’s realized that’s something he needs to do.”
Goldschmidt is in his fourth full major league season, rising quickly through the ranks after being an eighth-round draft pick.
Hard to imagine there were concerns about his lack of speed and defensive ability.
“I don’t think the eighth round is so low,” he joked. “I know a lot of guys who were drafted lower.”
Not many with this kind of resume.
Goldschmidt remains a big bargain, by baseball standards. He is in the third season of a five-year, $32 million contract with a $14.5 million club option for 2018.
That’s certainly plenty for Goldschmidt and his budding family and, at age 27, there could still be a much bigger deal available sometime down the road.
Goldschmidt’s wife, Amy, is due with the couple’s first child, a boy, in late summer.
Now there’s something maybe he can get excited about.
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