PHOENIX — Paul Goldschmidt helped forge friendships and open frontiers in Australia as part of the Diamondbacks’ travel party this week. He will come home to another piece of offseason hardware.
Goldschmidt was named the NL Silver Slugger winner at first base on Wednesday after the breakout 2013 season that has made him one of three finalists for the NL Most Valuable Player award, to be announced next week.
Wednesday’s announcement was a no-brainer. Goldschmidt had a .302/.401/.551 slash line with 36 home runs and 125 RBI. He tied for the league lead in homers with Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and led the league in RBI, slugging percentage, OPS (.952), total bases (322) and intentional walks (19). Goldschmidt’s 20 go-ahead homers led the NL, and his 41 RBI in the seventh inning or later were second to Baltimore’s Chris Davis (42) in the majors.
Goldschmidt, Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina were announced Tuesday as the three finalists for the NL MVP Award as chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The favorite appears to be McCutchen, less because of what he did than what the Pirates did in making the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Not that McCutchen had a bad year. His slash line was .317/.404/.508, and he had 21 homers and 84 RBI. But the Pirates made the playoffs and the D-backs did not, a factor that many voters rank high when considering their choice. McCutchen’s 8.2 WAR (wins above replacement player) were second in the league, behind Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez (8.4) and ahead of No. 3 Goldschmidt (7.0).
Goldschmidt, who made his first All-Star team this summer, was awarded the NL Gold Glove at first base last week and the Hank Aaron Award as the NL’s top hitter late last month. Neither the Gold Glove nor Silver Slugger will figure into the MVP voting, which is done before the postseason begins.
Goldschmidt is the sixth Silver Slugger winner in D-backs history and the fourth in the last three seasons. Second baseman Aaron Hill won in 2012, and right fielder Justin Upton and right-hander Daniel Hudson were honored in 2011.
Left fielder Luis Gonzalez (2001) was the first D-backs winner, and pitcher Micah Owings won in 2007.
D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall, Goldschmidt and Craig Shipley, a special assistant to general manager Kevin Towers and a native of Australia, were in Sydney, Australia, this week to raise awareness for the D-backs’ season-opening series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23, 2014.
Coaching search update
Former St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan has been rumored to be a candidate for a similar position with the D-backs, but Duncan told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal in September that “I really don’t think I would coach again — not right now, anyway. But if someone is interested, I’d listen to whatever they’re thinking about.”
Duncan, 68, seemed to be interested in a front office role, telling Rosenthal the reason he would not coach again is “the grind.” Cincinnati also has an opening for a pitching coach after promoting Bryan Price to manager, but the Reds are expected to bring back pitching assistant Mack Jenkins in some capacity. Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty was in St. Louis when Duncan coached the Cardinals. Duncan retired after the 2011 World Series to be with his wife, Jeanine, who passed away from brain cancer in June.