Emerging superstar? Goldschmidt already there

BY foxsports • September 28, 2013

PHOENIX -- When the Diamondbacks signed Paul Goldschmidt to a $32 million contract extension two days before the start of the regular season, they did it with greatness in mind. "We saw him as an emerging young superstar," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. Consider Goldschmidt emerged. In his second full season, Goldschmidt has his finger prints all over the National League leaderboard. He has 124 RBIs entering the final game of the season, and the Reds' Jay Bruce would need four grand slams Sunday to catch him. Goldschmidt and the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez are tied for the home run lead with 36. Goldschmidt also leads the league in slugging percentage and OPS by margins that make him all but uncatchable. The new math agrees -- he leads the league in the advanced metric of adjusted OPS, a stat that factors park variations into the equation. He will be a fixture at the No. 3 spot in the D-backs' lineup through 2019 if they pick up the option on his new contract, and it is not too early to consider him among the game's elite, teammates say. "He's one of those players, an Albert Pujols type," Willie Bloomquist said. "The first year they say, 'Is this too good to be true?' No, it's just how good you are. That's the player you are. That's the player Goldy is. "I didn't play with Albert, but I played against him a lot. I know what he can do. Paul has those type of tools. Very consistent. A grinder. Hits to all fields. Has power. Can run. Plays great defense. I think that's the biggest thing (for which) he doesn't get the credit he deserves. He makes the other three infielders pretty dang good." Goldschmidt went from solid to spectacular in one short season, living up to Gibson's description as a superstar in the making. He hit .286 with 43 doubles, 20 home runs and 82 RBIs in his first full year in 2012. Some of those doubles turned into home runs this year, several to the power alley in right-center field, a testament to his all-fields approach. He is just as comfortable taking the ball the other way, an approach that makes it tough for opposing pitchers to find a hole.
"He takes a good at-bat. He goes up there with a plan. He's mature for his age at the plate," Miguel Montero said.
 "He's a smart hitter. He doesn't go up there swinging the bat just to swing it. He's really selective. He only swings at what he is looking for. He had a right-center-field approach, but when he needs to pull it, he pulls.

"Plus, he's a big boy. He doesn't need to generate that much power. That kind of helps, too. He's pretty mature for his age at the plate." Goldschmidt, 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, has had an MVP season, whether he wins the BBWAA award voting or not. This year features a strong group of candidates that includes the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and the Cardinals' Yadier Molina. The numbers speak for themselves. Goldschmidt leads the NL in walkoff homers (three), homers after the eighth inning (seven), go-ahead home runs (20) and go-ahead RBIs (36). He is tied for the league lead in game-winning RBIs (19) and RBIs with runners in scoring position (83). The funny thing is, personal statistics could not mean less to him, other than in the way they help the team prosper. Combining natural talent and a commitment to the process, however, the numbers follow Goldschmidt around like obedient puppies. "I'm not a guy who ever looks at numbers. I just want to come in and give my best effort. Prepare. Work hard. Do whatever you can to help the team," Goldschmidt said. "You take care of what you can control. You are preparing every day. You are putting in your work in the cage. Your defense, your hitting ... the stats, whatever they turn out to be, that's all you can do." Goldschmidt typically arrives at the park at 1 p.m., sometimes earlier, for a night game. Included in his pregame regimen is conditioning, extra hitting and film study -- plenty of film study. The more he knows about the pitcher he is about to face, the more likely he is not to be surprised by a certain pitch or a certain pattern.
"You can prepare and not have the results, but if you do all you can to prepare and give your full effort, you can't look and say, 'I could have done anything different.' Hit four line drives and get four hits or four outs or somewhere in the middle, it's the same preparation," Goldschmidt said. Pitchers, the true judges of an opposing player, have taken to walking Goldschmidt since he made his first All-Star Game appearance. He has 55 walks, 15 intentional, in his last 69 games to give him 99 walks for the season. With one more walk, he will join Mel Ott as the only NL players aged 25 or younger for the majority of a season to hit .300 with 35 homers, 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks. "The scary thing is, I think he's going to get better," Bloomquist said.  "If I had to guess, I would say he is going to be near the top of those for a long time. I don't think this is a one-year thing for him. He's too good."
Montero agreed. "He's getting to know the league better. He's learning. He's one of those guys that doesn't take anything for granted. He plays hard every day and gives his best every day," Montero sad. "Guys like that, you respect."
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