After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season. They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post. Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. This year, of course, was anything but typical. So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative. There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable. As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!
Player: Paul Goldschmidt
Season stats: 58 games, 231 PA, 31 R, 58 H, 13 2B, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB, 37 BB, 43 K, .304/.417/.466, 142 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR
Postseason stats: 2 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, .231/.286/.769
Statcast: .380 xwOBA, 10.7% barrel %, 89.2 exit velocity, 40.9% hard hit %
Best Statcast category: xwOBA (94th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Sprint Speed (36th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 3
On COVID IL: No
Overview: There he is. That’s the Paul Goldschmidt we thought the Cardinals were getting when he came over from Arizona. While 2019 wasn’t a bad year, it wasn’t up to the standards that America’s First Baseman has set in his career. 2020, short as it may have been, helped to rectify that. He put up more than half the WAR he had in the previous year in less than 1/3 of the time. It carried over into the postseason as well, where he was one of the bright spots in that short span.
He played every day. He batted third every day. He was also walked at a rate that would have seen him passed 100+ times in a regular season, something he hadn’t done since 2016. While there’s no doubt that he has a fine eye, a lot of that was because he was the only real threat in the Cardinal lineup and as such pitchers rarely had to give him anything to hit. The fact that he did as well as he did and put up the numbers that he did in a lineup that ranked in the bottom five in baseball is fairly remarkable.
His glovework was still excellent as well, winding up on the Gold Glove finalist list. Watching Goldy play first was a joy this year, honestly. You wouldn’t think first base would be that sort of defensive gem place, but Goldschmidt (much like Albert Pujols did when he was in town) turns in exciting and quality plays on a regular basis.
There’s been a lot of talk about trades that John Mozeliak maybe shouldn’t have made. Given the results so far on both sides of the equation, I don’t believe this is one of them.
Outlook: Goldschmidt turned 33 late in the 2020 season, so there should still be some good baseball in him. It would be a shame if the only real Goldschmidt season we saw was this one, given the fact it wasn’t a full stretch, but I don’t think that’s likely to be the case. While it’s unlikely the Cardinals will go out and get any sort of significant bat, you do wonder what Goldschmidt would do if pitchers had to come after him a little more often. Even if they don’t, though, I expect Goldy will get his and be the cornerstone to the club next year.