Goldy hits 300th homer ... but thought he missed it

July 17th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- The National League leader in four major offensive categories, Cardinals slugger  came into Saturday in the worst rut of an otherwise spectacular season.

After battering opposing pitching for a .404 average and 10 home runs in May and a .323 average and eight more homers in June, Goldschmidt entered Saturday’s game against the Reds at .264 and homerless in 15 July games.

In what had to feel like an eternity to a Cardinals squad that has relied on Goldschmidt’s consistent brilliance all season, their slugger finally ended his 17-game power outage with the 300th home run of his career. In typical Goldschmidt fashion, he brushed off the significance of becoming the 10th active player and one of 153 players in MLB history to hit 300 home runs. What mattered most to him was that the Cardinals crushed the Reds, 11-3.

“Not much really,” Goldschmidt said when asked about the significance of hitting the 300th home run of his career -- 91 of which have come in a Cardinals uniform. “It’s good to hit a homer and help us win, but it’s not like [300 home runs] is a goal or anything like that.”

While Goldschmidt was quick to dismiss the significance of hitting a milestone home run, Cardinals coaches and teammates had plenty of praise for a player who leads the NL in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.414), slugging (.590) and is second (to teammate Nolan Arenado) in WAR (4.7), second in RBIs (70) and tied for sixth in home runs (20).

“It’s got to be one of his better first halves, even though he’s probably had a lot of first halves like this,” said starting pitcher Miles Mikolas, who benefited from the St. Louis offensive explosion for his seventh victory of the season. “This is right on par with what you expect from a great baseball player like him.”

But entering Saturday, Goldschmidt had been in such a rut that when Reds’ left fielder Stuart Fairchild jumped for his drive at the wall, the Cardinals star stopped running and nearly headed for the dugout.

“I thought he caught it,” Goldschmidt deadpanned. “I looked at the umpire, assuming they were going to call, ‘out.’ But he looked at me and said, ‘home run.’”

Headed to his seventh MLB All-Star Game, Goldschmidt is one of just 10 active players to have at least 300 home runs. That list includes teammate Albert Pujols (685, most among active players and fifth all time), opponent Joey Votto (337) and now Goldschmidt (300). Votto, who hit No. 300 last April, marveled at how the St. Louis star is good at so many aspects of the game.

“He’s had an excellent year, and he's been excellent basically his entire career,” Votto said. “A great defender, a great baserunner and he's a great baseball player. The cool part about it is, nobody knows him for his home runs. By the end of [Goldschmidt’s career], he could have a lot of home runs -- and that's a pretty cool thing to be known for -- but he’s known for everything but home runs and he’s also entered the 300-homer club.”

The Cardinals are in a stretch of 17 games in 17 days prior to the All-Star break, and manager Oliver Marmol said Goldschmidt impresses him daily with his availability and his desire to play every day. Not only has the 34-year-old Goldschmidt played in 90 of his team’s 94 games, but he’s hit safely in 72 of them. Earlier this season he had a 25-game hitting streak and a 46-game on-base streak -- consistency the Cardinals count on.

“He’s been unbelievable,” Marmol said. “With his consistency, you can count on him being in the lineup every day. This guy plays every single day and never wants a day off. He’s been super consistent with the way he preps his body, and to be able to do it’s unbelievable. So it’s cool for him to be rewarded with another All-Star.”

Goldschmidt was rewarded on Saturday for pushing through his least productive stretch of the season and providing the spark in the Cardinals' three-run second inning that broke the game open. He followed with an RBI single in the third inning and drove in three of the Cardinals’ 11 runs on the afternoon.

“Stats speak for themselves, and I haven’t been playing my best, but that’s part of the season,” Goldschmidt said. “You know there are going to be ups and downs, but for me I just don’t get too caught up if I’m playing good or not playing my best. I just try to show up every day and work and prepare. Whatever happens after that is out of my control.”