Sunday, July 1, 2018
The Breathtaking Return of Paul Goldschmidt's Average
We were all worried. I mean, I say 'we'. Arizona fans were all worried.
The season started, and Paul Goldschmidt was not hitting like himself. He was striking out too much, barely hitting for average, and he was floundering in the middle of a career that, to this point, has been pretty damned flawless. To see Goldschmidt, who has carried this team since his 2012 come-up, looking this helpless was pretty painful even for a guy who doesn't even like the Diamondbacks.
But...around the time the Diamondbacks were figuring out how to win again, so was Goldschmidt. Now he's got a .268 average, with 17 home runs, and 80 hits, dwarfed only by David Peralta's 81. He's still a great defensive first baseman, even if his turning 30 means his best days at the position might be coming to an end, but he motivates the rest of the team to aspire for greatness, even in the moments where he's struggling.
Paul Goldschmidt is the leadership figure the Diamondbacks deserve, and this huge, best-in-the-NL-East thing might not have happened if the D-Backs had traded him (like I'd so callously beckoned) years ago. Plus, the roster has been built around him, with more speed-driven players like David Peralta, Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed complimenting him, as well as sources of power like Jake Lamb and Jarrod Dyson. Additionally, the team has been embracing the use of an expanded bench, with people like Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay doing tremendously well off it. And...John Ryan Murphy as the starting catcher isn't as dire as it might sound, as he's hitting for average better than positional competitors Jeff Mathis and Alex Avila ever could.
The lineup is great, and the bullpen is also pretty damned strong--yeah, it's not just Archie Bradley surging. The rotation has enough depth to stay afloat amidst injures; Taijuan Walker's injury has led to the use of Clay Buchholz as a fifth starter, which has worked well. Matt Koch has been an extra hand as well, and they might go back to using him after Shelby Miller is dealt with (I don't think he has anything left, especially considering these last two pitiful performances we've seen in Arizona).
There's a few minor things that can be fixed over the next month (holy crap, it's JULY!), but this D-Backs team is in pretty nice shape, and it's all thanks to the return of Paul Goldschmidt's best work.
Coming Tonight: Oh dear. I mean, we all knew he was gonna be good in Boston. But...NOT THIS GOOD!