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An Outlook On Paul Goldschmidt

The Former MVP Has Enjoyed a Hall of Fame Career Thus Far, But How Will It End?

We are now just six weeks away from the beginning of Spring Training, approaching the end of what has been a busy offseason for the Redbirds.

Cardinals’ team president Bill DeWitt III recently lamented a rocky 2023, stating how the team maintains full responsibility for righting the ship.

Maybe not the most insightful quote from the person who’ll eventually inherit full control of the franchise, but this offseason was one of the busier ones in recent memory, so I’m hopeful that the team will return to its winning ways soon.

There were plenty responsible on and off the field for last year’s debacle, and while he’s far from the only problem, veteran Paul Goldschmidt failed to put up the numbers we’re used to seeing from him. Our 2022 National League MVP produced well below his career average in 2023 but was still good for 3.7 fWAR and a 122 wRC+.

Calling such a season a disappointment only attests to Goldy’s Hall of Fame career trajectory. The Delaware native has been one of baseball’s best all-around hitters for over a decade, displaying a rare blend of elite barrel accuracy, swing decisions, and power all in one complete package.

Paul Goldschmidt Basic Percentile Rankings

Statistic Percentile Rank Since Debut (2011)
Statistic Percentile Rank Since Debut (2011)
BB% 96.9
HardHit% 93.1
wOBA 98.8

Still, fans are worried about a regression from their franchise player, and rightfully so given his age and objective dip in result statistics. Father time is undefeated, but I’m making the case that America’s First Basemen still has some juice left in the tank, albeit with some question marks.

Getting Swept Off Of His Feet

We’ll start with our veggies. The sweeper has taken baseball by storm, with some of the sport’s nastiest pitchers employing ones that routinely break 12 inches or more. It’s fooled the best of hitters, and Goldy is no exception.

In each of his past few seasons, he’s gotten an ever-increasing diet of breaking balls and sweepers. Paul’s been fine in small sample sizes, but 2023 offered a larger data set and more unfavorable results.

Paul Goldschmidt Sweeper Diet

Season # of Sweepers Seen wOBA
Season # of Sweepers Seen wOBA
2021 33 0.309
2022 60 0.5
2023 134 0.276

This was just the seventh-highest frequency pitch this season, yet by far the one he struggled with the most. Being that he’s one of baseball’s smartest hitters, it’s reasonable to expect he’ll make some sort of adjustment, as should many hitters as they continue getting used to sweepers.

Bat Speed and Barrel Accuracy Are Still There

Now, onto our desert. Power is arguably the most important tool a batter can have, given its high correlation with pure production. Goldschmidt has a 46.0% career HardHit% and is coming off of a 50.7% season in 2023. Similarly, he registered an 11.9 Barrel% last year, though his career mark is 11.5%. It’s clear the physical capabilities needed to perform are still there, and that his swing hasn’t slowed down yet.

Looking Forward

While I presently hesitate to call this roster makeover a rebuild, the team’s impending 2024 performance could dictate the organizational strategy over the next few seasons, potentially forcing management’s hand to push the hard reset button.

Goldschmidt, along with several other veterans, could see their roster security dwindle if the team is out of contention come July. A young core already exists in the lineup to go along with several promising pitching prospects, and adding to this arsenal via trade while shedding unnecessary salary wouldn’t be the worst idea. We’ve also heard rumblings about a potential contract extension, but it appears this will have to wait until the season begins.

Conversely, the Cardinals could aim to keep him, regardless of their overall team situation next Summer. It’d be nice to see a legend potentially break records and hopefully play long enough in the Lou to be enshrined in the Hall as a Cardinal and not a Diamondback.

Final Thoughts

No one can dispute Paul Goldschmidt’s talent and accolades. We’ve been spoiled as a fanbase to have not one, but two of the greatest first-basemen ever to wear the birds on the bat.

The fan in me wants to see him play out his remaining years in St. Louis, but this is a franchise that doesn’t have the luxury of retiring their hometown star if they’re not in a winning situation. I firmly believe that, without a couple of significant additions to the team, this team is still far away from truly contending in the playoffs. We’ve talked on the show about this being an 80-85-win team, but ideally, you’re outperforming the competition with the best talent and winning more.

No matter what, Paul will be known for his veteran leadership and presence in the locker room, and will forever be a Cardinal great regardless of where he finishes his career.