Goldschmidt’s star keeps rising as he keeps putting in the work

Paul Goldschmidt has hit 75 doubles and 55 home runs over the past two seasons despite missing two months last year with a broken wrist.

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Paul Goldschmidt does not set numerical goals. Never has, maybe never will. He is, however, a stickler for industry best practices, and that has what has driven him his current spot as one of the best first basemen in the National League. Make that best players.

 He describes it this way.

 "My goals are daily — just to show up and prepare to the best of my ability," he said. "Try to go out there and control the stuff I can control. Play hard on the field. Try to be a good teammate. Have good at-bats. Be locked in. Be mentally prepared every day. If you do that at the end of the year, I think the stats that most people look at, whatever they are, will take care of themselves."

 His day usually starts at least a half-day before the Diamondbacks’ game is scheduled to start and includes film study, extra batting practice and conditioning. His stats have screamed approval. 

 Goldschmidt was the best offensive player in the NL in 2013, when he also won a Gold Glove at first base. He finished second in the MVP voting, when teammates found it a miscarriage of justice that he was penalized for their difficult seasons. Goldschmidt was leading the majors leagues with 39 doubles last Aug. 1, when he was lost for the season after suffering a broken left wrist when hit by a pitch.

 Since being promoted for the 2011 pennant drive, Goldschmidt has 127 doubles, 83 homers, 302 RBI and two All-Star appearances. His 162-game averages are 45 doubles, 29 homers and 106 RBI.

 "He’s come into his own," Aaron Hill said. "In the short time he’s been in the league, he’s done some great things. Just kind of found out who he is and knows who he wants to be. He knows his capabilities. He’s a great presence in the clubhouse and a great presence in the batter’s box."

Game report: D-backs 3, Reds 0

 The D-backs see more good things coming as they look for a bounce-back season, although like Goldschmidt, general manager Dave Stewart does not describe it in numbers.

 "I don’t like to do that to players," Stewart said. "I know if he goes out and gets his 500, 600 plate appearances, the end result is going to be good."

If he’s healthy, the plate appearances are a foregone conclusion. Manager Chip Hale spoke earlier in spring training about determining his backup first baseman for the days Goldschmidt is out of the lineup this season. Those two games, someone joked. Hale smiled.

 "He’s a consummate professional. He’s a very serious guy," Hale said. "He’s always trying to get better. Whether it is offense, defense, base running, he is trying to be the best at each of those things that he can be and better than everybody else. That’s what you want in a player. You hear great things, then you watch. You get excited to manage guys like Paul Goldschmidt."

 As good as they are, numbers alone do not define Goldschmidt’s contributions. As Hill mentioned, Goldschmidt is a model presence, even in a room full of professionals. Despite only 3-1/3 seasons in the majors (he was called up from Double-A Mobile on Aug. 1, 2011), Goldschmidt is one of the longest-tenured D-backs. Daniel Hudson, acquired in 2010, is the only player with appreciably more time with the D-backs. (Hill, David Hernandez, Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler also made their first Diamondbacks’ appearances in 2011).  

As such, Goldschmidt embraces leadership the way he does the other facets of his job, as all in a best day’s work.

 "It’s changed a little bit," Goldschmidt said of the clubhouse makeup, "but we have some veteran guys who have been here a lot longer than I have, definitely in baseball. I think everyone just leans on each other."

 Hill sees a guy who’s always willing to help.

 "He’s a leader by example," Hill said. "He’s a guy that obviously puts up the numbers he does, and people want to know kind of how he does it. He’s great with the younger guys. He’s relatively young himself . . . it is great talking about what he is thinking up there. He loves baseball. He loves being here early. He never shies away from a conversation about hitting, which is great."

 Stewart has seen the same thing in his six weeks with Goldschmidt.

CARDINALS CORNER

 "He doesn’t brag or boast. He just goes out and gets it done. When you have one of the pillars of your ball club with that type of character, it definitely rubs off on your other players," Stewart said.

 Rather than retreat following his injury last year, after which the D-backs tumbled to the worst record in the majors, Goldschmidt remained as active has he could be in the final two off-field months in 2015. He studied the games as he watched from the bench, the different perspective lending to his understanding of subtleties that can be lost during the heat of play.

 "Where you are not necessarily focused on your next at-bat . . . where you watch all nine guys in the lineup or you’re watching how our pitcher attacks, or what their guys did to some of our guys," Goldschmidt said. 

 "You can sometimes pickup patterns. I don’t know if it will be helpful or hurtful, but you try to keep getting better, keep learning. I think you try to learn as much as you can because that’s how you are going to keep getting better. If I’m not getting better, somebody else is, and you want to be the best player you can. I try to do that every day."

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