This is the week of the solar eclipse, a once-in-a-lifetime event that we could build our schedules around. It's also a week of predictable works in baseball.There have been many marvels this season we didn't see coming, of course.The Dodgers with their .712 winning percentage. Aaron Judge with 30 home
This is the week of the solar eclipse, a once-in-a-lifetime event that we could build our schedules around. It's also a week of predictable works in baseball.
There have been many marvels this season we didn't see coming, of course.
The Dodgers with their .712 winning percentage. Aaron Judge with 30 home runs before the All-Star break. Giancarlo Stanton taking aim at Roger Maris. Andrelton Simmons discovering power to go with his elite fielding skills.
But what about the greatness we see every season?
Paul Goldschmidt is about as surprising as the sun coming up in the morning. He'll turn 30 in September, and I know just what to get him -- the National League Most Valuable Player Award. It's about time, isn't it?
Goldschmidt is very quietly turning in his best season, which is remarkable in its own right, given that he was runner-up to Andrew McCutchen for the NL MVP Award in 2013 and to Bryce Harper in '15. Along with Zack Greinke, he's led the Diamondbacks into position to reach the postseason as one of the two NL Wild Card teams, in a race that so far has been surprisingly uncomplicated.
After Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Mets, Goldschmidt is hitting .314 with 29 home runs, 98 RBIs and a 1.011 OPS. He's walked 81 times, stolen 16 bases and scored 93 runs.
According to fWAR (by FanGraphs), Goldschmidt has been worth 5.4 wins, second in the NL only to Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. In all of baseball, he's fourth behind Judge (6.0), Jose Altuve (6.0) and Rendon (5.6). Goldschmidt is at 5.5 in bWAR (by Baseball Reference), ranking him fourth in the NL, just a tick below Joey Votto (5.9), Nolan Arenado (5.8) and Stanton (5.7)., and sixth in all of baseball, with Altuve (6.8) and Simmons (6.3) topping the list.
There's nothing Goldschmidt cannot do on the field, even if at first glance he looks like he might be on the one-dimensional side. He's listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and seems like a prototypical first baseman -- a guy who drives in runs, not sets the table; who makes the ordinary defensive plays, not ones that require range or a strong, accurate arm; who steals maybe five bases a year, always on the back end of double steals.
But to the delight of the D-backs and their fans, Goldschmidt plays the same kind of game as Altuve, who is almost a full foot shorter. He is as complete of a player as a first baseman can be -- a Votto with more speed and a dash more power.
It's OK if you don't always think of Goldschmidt with guys like Michael Trout, Altuve or Harper when you're thinking about the most complete players in the game. He fooled scouts long before he announced his presence with that masterpiece season in 2013 (.302, 36 homers, 125 RBIs, a .952 OPS, 15 stolen bases and Gold Glove defense).
We still wonder how 24 players could have been drafted ahead of Trout in 2009. But that looks like a scouting misdemeanor compared to this felony: How could 245 players have been picked before Arizona snagged Goldschmidt in the eighth round that same year?
The question on the table now is if there's been any more valuable player in the NL this season?
There are lots of strong candidates, sure. But no one better.
It's true that Stanton, not Goldschmidt, is putting up the best statistics. He's hitting .284 with 46 home runs, 99 RBIs and a 1.018 OPS.
But all that does is make Stanton the early front-runner for the Hank Aaron Award, which was created in 1999 to honor the best offensive player in each league. The MVP Award has always been about context, giving extra credit to a player from a strong team, generally one on a team going to the postseason.
Goldschmidt has been the ideal hitter for Arizona this season, producing as if he's controlled by an internal metronome set to tick through October. Here's his OPS by month: .983, .999, 1.073, .964 and 1.047.
It's the same pattern, except at a higher level, than in 2016. Goldschmidt by month last year: .931, .891, .995, .816, .937, .819.
That's a hitter you can count on. Also one who could be taken for granted.
Don't let that happen. It's time to recognize just how special Goldschmidt has become.
Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.