There are 17 men in baseball history who played at least half of their career games in the Majors at first base and eventually gained induction into the Hall of Fame for their effort as a player. It's too soon to speculate on Paul Goldschmidt's chances of joining them, but
There are 17 men in baseball history who played at least half of their career games in the Majors at first base and eventually gained induction into the Hall of Fame for their effort as a player. It's too soon to speculate on Paul Goldschmidt's chances of joining them, but it's also a fun time of year to take a deeper look into how the three-time All-Star and two-time National League MVP Award runner-up could be on a Hall of Fame track.
Goldschmidt's narrative arc makes for an interesting framework. The D-backs' first baseman got a relatively late start to his career (playing only 33 total games before turning 24 years old). On the other hand, it took little time for him to emerge as an offensive force and defensive stalwart. As such, Goldschmidt has already amassed an impressive resume from both a statistical and narrative/award-driven standpoint.
Goldschmidt -- a two-time Gold Glover, two-time Silver Slugger and one-time home run champ -- has now completed five years in the Majors (he just completed his age-27 season), and he has assembled a .299/.395/.535/.930 slash line that unfurls itself to display a 151 OPS+. For his career, he has generated 289 extra-base hits and 361 walks. In 2015, Goldschmidt produced his second career .300/.400/.500 line and a second career 30-homer, 100-run, 100-RBI season. So that's his career in a stat-heavy nutshell.
How does Goldschmidt look among other first basemen? Let's see. (For the purposes of this exercise, we are defining first basemen as players who had at least 50 percent of their games at the position.)
• There are seven others who, through their first five years, accumulated at least 1,500 plate appearances and posted stats that equal or surpass Goldschmidt's .299/.395/.535. Four of the seven are in the Hall of Fame (Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize and Frank Thomas), one is retired but not yet eligible for induction (Todd Helton), and two are active (Joey Votto and Albert Pujols).
• There are 13 who, through their first five years, accumulated at least 1,500 plate appearances and assembled an OPS+ of at least 150. Only four Hall of Famers grace this baker's dozen (the same four referenced above). But on the other hand, Goldschmidt's 151 puts him ahead of Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler (146), Jim Bottomley (140), Orlando Cepeda (136), Eddie Murray (136), Jake Beckley (130) and Bill Terry (123).
• Goldschmidt is one of 14 to have multiple .300/.400/.500 seasons (while qualifying for the batting title) through his age-27 season. Of the other 13, seven are in the Hall of Fame (Jimmie Foxx, Gehrig, Mize, Greenberg, Thomas, Dan Brouthers and Bottomley) and two others (Pujols and Votto) are active.
• Goldschmidt is one of 15 players to have multiple 30-homer, 100-run, 100-RBI seasons through his age-27 campaign. Of the other 14, six are immortalized in Cooperstown (Foxx, Thomas, Greenberg, Gehrig, Murray and Cepeda), while four others (including Pujols) are active.
• There are 27 who, through their age-27 season, compiled at least 275 extra-base hits and at least 350 walks. Six (Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg, Mize, Murray and Thomas) are Hall of Famers.
The closest comp to Goldschmidt here is someone who, based on how he did in the most recent election, looks to be a lock for future induction: Jeff Bagwell.
• Like Bagwell, Goldschmidt is unique among first basemen in that he steals bases, and does so efficiently. Goldschmidt has 67 steals in his career and has been successful on 79 percent of his attempts. In fact, there are just four first basemen with more than 100 homers and 50 steals through age 27. That group is led by Cepeda, who debuted at the age of 20 and had 92 steals and 223 homers at that point in time.
Goldschmidt is at 67 and 116, Bagwell was at 57 and 113, and the last man in that group is Derrek Lee, who had 51 steals and 130 homers through age 27.
There's one additional angle in which Arizona's All-Star first baseman suggestively inhabits a Hall of Fame universe. In the award and title department, Goldschmidt and Murray are the only two first basemen to have multiple Gold Gloves and a home run title to their credit through their respective age-27 season. Goldschmidt may have gotten a late start to his career (by age), but he's packed a lot into the first phase of it. With a career-high 170 OPS+ in 2015, it feels reasonable to imagine that he is in the middle of a notable peak. What this may mean for Goldschmidt's potential Hall of Fame candidacy is still unknown, but the path he has created thus far suggests it's a conversation that will gain momentum in the next decade.
**Roger Schlueter** is a columnist for MLB.com.