Paul Goldschmidt won’t be on the ballot for probably another 10 years. He has been one of the best first basemen in the league during his current 12-year career. While he certainly doesn’t get the kind of fanfare many of his contemporaries enjoy, he has been rock solid for the Arizona Diamondbacks and more recently with the St. Louis Cardinals. Unlike most of his fellow first basemen, Goldschmidt steals bases and also plays Gold Glove defense. Let’s take a look at his Hall of Fame case.
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Paul Edward Goldschmidt was an eighth-round selection of the Diamondbacks in 2009 out of Texas State University. After tearing up the minors and making it to Double-A by 2011, Arizona called him up. He had a solid 48 games that year and took over the starting spot in 2012. Although he played first, Goldy showed off his power-speed combo hitting 20 home runs and stealing 18 bases that season. In 2013, he broke through leading the league in HRs (36) and RBIs (125) while swiping 15 bags and finishing second to Andrew McCutchen in NL MVP voting.
After an injury-shortened 2014, Goldschmidt bounced back and finished second once again in MVP voting, this time to Bryce Harper. From 2013-2018 with Arizona, Goldy averaged 30 homers, 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 17 SBs. while slashing .301/.406/.541. He was shipped to St. Louis and has been there for three seasons. While his overall production has slipped slightly, Goldschmidt is still a premier first baseman. In 2021 he finished sixth in MVP voting and won his fourth Gold Glove.
Goldschmidt already has some accolades that voters like to see: six All-Star appearances, five top-6 finishes in MVP voting, four Gold Gloves. He currently has 280 HRs and 140 SBs, a rare accomplishment for a first baseman. Only two other players who have played at least 40 percent of their games at first base have reached those numbers, Orlando Cepeda and Jeff Bagwell. While defense is not considered a priority for first basemen the way it is for players in the middle of the diamond, Goldschmidt has been elite in his career ranking fifth all-time in fielding percentage and 13th in Total Zone Runs according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The Cardinals’ first baseman is on a solid track, but as it stands now, he looks like he has a case similar to Mark Teixeira. Goldschmidt has a wOBA of .385 and a 141 wRC+. Through his first 10 seasons, Tex had a .382 wOBA and a 131 wRC+. While Goldy’s baserunning certainly earns him marks, the overall offensive output needs to continue for him to have a chance.
What you do at the plate is what gets you voted in as a first baseman. Todd Helton was an excellent hitter and he had a 143 wRC+ from 1998-2007 before falling off a bit. With Goldschmidt at 141, he is on track to at least keep up with Helton somewhat. The retired Rockie stands at 57.1 percent of the vote as of this writing according to bbhoftracker.com. Goldy has three more years on his contract with the Cardinals and is 34 years old. He should reach significant milestones this year like 300 HRs, 1,000 runs, and 1,000 RBIs. What he does in these next three years and possibly beyond will mean a lot to his Hall of Fame case. He is at 50.7 rWAR right now. If Goldschmidt can get to 65, Helton is at 61.8, he would solidify his shot at Cooperstown when he hangs them up.
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