As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Paul Goldschmidt
Season stats: 158 G, 679 PA, 102 R, 36 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 12 SB, 67 BB, 136 K, .294/.365/.514, 143 OPS+, 6.3 bWAR, 4.9 fWAR
Statcast: .394 xwOBA, 13.6 barrel %, 92.6 exit velocity, 50.6 hard hit %, 20.0 K %, 9.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: xSLG (95th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Sprint Speed (34th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 16, Goat 6
Positives: A lot of red (which is good) on his Statcast ledger….in the top 10% of league in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and outs above average….missed only four games this year and has played in all but seven in his three years in St. Louis….had three multiple home run games, including one in September against the Brewers that kept the winning streak rolling….hit .391 with seven homers during the record streak….had a 1.063 OPS against lefties….put up a .909 OPS away from Busch, though his home runs were fairly evenly split (14 at home, 17 on road)…slashed .330/.402/.618 in the second half….nine of his 31 home runs came in September….hit .350 in August….had a 1.103 OPS in games the Cardinals won….walked (intentionally) in his only pinch-hitting opportunity….hit .297 with eight homers leading off an inning….hit .311 with a .944 OPS in the second spot….had a .404 average on the first pitch….had a 1.157 OPS when ahead in the count but also a .918 OPS when it was even….hit .316 with 10 homers with two outs in a frame….had a .865 OPS with runners in scoring position….with two outs and RISP, slashed .321/.406/.817…..had five homers and an .878 OPS in high leverage situations….hit eight home runs in the first inning….had a 1.096 OPS in the fifth inning….hit 20 homers off of starters, 11 off relievers….had a .976 OPS against finesse pitchers….blasted the Reds for a 1.000 OPS and four homers….also hit four homers against the Brewers and Cubs….hit .311 in day games….won another Gold Glove and started some remarkable double plays, including two notable ones within a week of each other in September.
Negatives: Had an .832 OPS against righties, which is still good but much less than his mark against lefties….hit .265 in the first half….much of that was from another slow start, as he slashed .214/.257/.340 in April….was quiet in losses with a .587 OPS….didn’t take to being a DH, with a .561 in 17 plate appearances….hit .210 when the pitcher was ahead in the count….posted a .681 OPS against power pitchers….hit .264 against the Cubs.
Paul’s so hot, he’s gone past Gold to Platinumschmidt.
— Cardinal70 (@C70) September 1, 2021
Goldschmidt really finally clicked in 2021, showing Cardinal fans the guy they always thought they were getting but who hadn’t quite hit those levels consistently over the last two years. While things picked up before the break, seeing what Goldschmidt did after the All-Star Game was a wonder to behold. There’s a reason he’ll be getting some MVP votes and it’s because he was the rock of this team, consistently hitting the ball hard and seeing the results go in his favor. He and Nolan Arenado rarely seemed to be going hot at the same time, but the good thing about having the two superstars is that you are almost always guaranteed one of them will be warm and that, depending on the rest of the team, might be enough. Goldy also played such remarkable defense at a position that isn’t known or even thought about when it comes to defense. You could put this season up against all but his very best seasons and it would hold its own. If this is the high point of his time in St. Louis, it’s quite a nice one.
Outlook: There’s no particular reason to think Goldschmidt will have a lot of dropoff next season, especially if another big bat is added to the lineup to take some burden off of him. Next season will be Age 34 season for the first baseman and while there may start to be a decline soon, you could also reasonably believe anything significant is 3-4 years away. We’ll see what Oli Marmol wants to do with the lineup but I bet almost all of them have Goldy hitting second and playing first base.