Exit Interview 2019: Paul Goldschmidt

Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat.  Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them.  The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable.  Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.

If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez.  Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site.  My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast.  It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug.  So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!

Player: Paul Goldschmidt

Season stats:  161 G, 682 PA, 97 R, 155 H, 25 2B, 1 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 3 SB, 1 CS, 78 BB, 166 K, .260/.346/.476, 113 OPS+, 2.8 bWAR

Statcast: 11.3% barrel %, 90.1 exit velocity, 42.4% hard hit %, .513 xwOBA

Hero/Goat: Hero 18, Goat 16

Overall grade: B

Positives: Posted over 650 plate appearances for the fifth straight year….reached thirty homers for the fourth time in five seasons….hit three homers and had a .974 OPS over the last week of the season….had an .886 OPS in the second half….was Player of the Month in July, when he hit 11 homers and posted a 1.085 OPS….hit .302 with 26 homers in Cardinal victories….slashed .318/.366/.697 when batting cleanup….hit .328 on the first pitch….had a 1.146 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .300 with nobody out….hit .304 with six homers in high leverage situations….was 4-12 with three homers in extra innings….had eight first inning homers….14 of his home runs came in the first three innings….hit .320 the second time in a game he saw a starter….had eight homers and a 1.017 OPS against the Brewers….had the earliest three-homer game after being traded in history….hit .429 with two homers in the NLDS win over Atlanta….was a major contributor in the improved Cardinal defense.

Negatives: Had career lows in all the slash categories plus OPS+….had just one hit in 16 at bats in the NLCS….had a .791 OPS against right-handers….hit .241 away from Busch….hit .254 in the first half….slashed .181/.274/.309 in June….had a .629 OPS in games the Cardinals lost….hit .240 batting third, his most regular spot in the lineup….hit .219 with two outs….had a .647 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position….hit .187 in close and late situations….had a .793 OPS in the first inning….hit .217 against power pitchers….hit .231 against the Reds.

Overview: This wasn’t quite what we expected when the Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt.  The season was good, don’t get me wrong, and probably better than many other Cardinal seasons we’ve seen as of late.  However, by pretty much all measures this was the worst season that Goldschmidt has had since breaking into the major leagues and to have that in the first season in a new place is, well, a bit concerning.  The Cards inked Goldschmidt to a five year, $130 million contract that will start next season.  It may be fair to ask, after this past season (and given how weird the market has been), if they could have gotten him for cheaper if they’d let him become a free agent.

The Statcast numbers don’t help much either.  He had one of his lowest barrel percentages, continued a three year decline in exit velocity and hard hit percentage, and walked significantly less than he has in the past.  He hit 50 points lower on fastballs in 2019 and hit more fly balls than normal.  It’s so hard to tell if this was a one year aberration that was accentuated by the pressure to perform in a new place or the beginning of a trend.

Outlook: Look, it’s better to have Goldschmidt than not to have him.  Thirty-plus homers is a nice thing to have in your lineup and there’s a good chance that there are still a couple of MVP-level years in him.  Plus that glove at first was really a big deal and a large reason the Cards went from last to first in errors this past season.  There’s more concern over that contract that we’d have expected and there’s a chance it won’t go well, but it’s too early to say that John Mozeliak erred by locking him up, especially when almost everyone in Cardinal Nation was clamoring for such a move.

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