One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Paul Goldschmidt
Season stats: 151 G, 651 PA, 106 R, 41 2B, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 7 SB, 79 BB, 141 K, .317/.404/.578, 180 OPS+, 7.8 bWAR, 7.1 fWAR
Statcast: .367 xwOBA, 11.6 barrel %, 90.8 exit velocity, 47.4 hard hit %, 21.7 K %, 12.1 BB %
Best Statcast category: xwOBA (95th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Arm Strength (1st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 29, Goat 4
Positives: The front-runner for the National League MVP to be announced soon….was just one home run shy off of his career high set back in 2013….led the league in slugging, OPS, and OPS+….was within striking distance of the Triple Crown in August….made his first All-Star team as a Cardinal….had three multi-homer games….had three four-hit games and 12 three-hit games….roasted lefties to the tune of .411/.515/.813 line….had a 1.092 OPS at Busch….had a 1.004 OPS in the first half….hit .404 for the month of May….had 10 homers in May as well….26 of his homers came after he took the first pitch….was good (.839 OPS) even when behind in the count but had a 1.275 OPS when he was ahead….had a 1.065 OPS with two outs….hit .308 with runners in scoring position….had a 1.127 OPS with two outs and RISP….had a .967 OPS in tie games….nine of his home runs came in the first inning….had a 1.109 OPS in the first three frames….got to starters for a 1.130 OPS….hit seven homers and had a 1.031 OPS against the Cubs.
Negatives: Outside of September, there aren’t many….hit .245 with two homers in the final month….had a .791 OPS in games the Cardinals lost….hit .286 as a DH….had a .714 OPS on the first pitch….hit .219 in late and close situations….had his lowest OPS (.895) in high leverage situations….struggled against relievers, going .232/.333/.412….hit .245 against power pitchers….went 0-7 with four strikeouts in the wild card series against the Phillies….missed out on a Gold Glove even though he was nominated.
Overview: If Goldschmidt isn’t the first Cardinals MVP since Albert Pujols, it’s only because of September and the incredible season that his partner Nolan Arenado also had. Goldy was everything that fans could have wanted for most of the season, finally showing the form that had folks salivating when the Cardinals traded for him. Not that the last couple of years have been bad, mind you, but it was good to see a breakout instead of the start of a decline. We’ve always wanted to see Goldy and Arenado clicking at the same time and in 2022 we got to see it in all its glory. It was a lot of fun to watch Goldschmidt play baseball this season.
Outlook: Expecting a repeat of that isn’t realistic, since it was one of his best years ever (his best by OPS+) and he’ll be entering his Age 35 season in April. Best case is probably a step back to what we’ve seen in 2020-2021, which is still really good even if it’s not necessarily to the standards of the best player in the league. He’s got two years left on his contract, so nothing probably happens this winter but an extension could come after 2023 depending on how he looks and how much longer he wants to play. I am sure the Cardinals will have a lot of desire to see him finish his career with the birds on the bat.