We are just over 50 games into the 2018 MLB season and as with any season, there are many expected aspects such as Trout leading the league in WAR, Boston and New York battling it out in the AL East, and the Astros being a repeat threat. Many of the games’ stars are performing as expected but there is one star player that is not quite himself. Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy has been a perennial NL MVP candidate having a WAR of at least 5 in 5 of the past 6 seasons. This season Goldschmidt has silently put up an average around the Mendoza line (.200 avg) with a wRC+ of 94. While the Diamondbacks have spiraled into losing ways, a Goldschmidt rebound would be much appreciated. We will look at what Goldschmidt is struggling with this year and if we can expect him to return to his normal ways.
When looking at Goldy’s stats the one category that stuck out is that he is striking out 31.5% of the time which significantly differs from the 21.7% that he has averaged over the course of the past 5 seasons. He is walking at around the same rate, has similar fly ball and ground ball rates, is spreading the ball across the field as usual and is hitting the ball as hard as usual. To add to all of that, he also is seeing the same pitch distribution as he had been the previous 5 seasons and pitchers are still pitching to him inside. Another notable difference this season is that he has a first pitch strike on him 68.5% of the time compared to an average of about 57% of the time over the past 5 seasons. Could his struggles be attributed to first pitch strikes? He is swinging slightly more at first pitches this season, but nothing dramatically different. This season, when Goldy is behind in the count, he is hitting .171 as opposed to .268 over the course of the past 5 seasons. Again, pitchers are pitching to him the exact same. Another key similarity is that despite hitting worse when behind in the count this season he is still hitting the ball just as hard. His plate discipline when behind in the count is also similar where he is swinging out of the zone about the same percent of the time as he has been in previous seasons though slightly more this season. Is he not attacking the ball the same? He is swinging at 59% of the balls in the zone when ahead in the count over the past 5 seasons and 64% this season. So he is still attacking while not swinging out of the zone much more than in previous seasons. As for his average exit velocity it is about 3 mph less than in previous seasons when ahead in the count. He is whiffing 13.2% of the time this season compared to 10.5% last season when swinging in the zone and ahead in the count. Again, not really a substantial difference.
For all of you who have Goldy on your fantasy teams and the Diamondbacks, just be patient. His .282 BABIP will rise as the season continues. It is baffling to everyone that Goldy is not topping NL leaderboards this season. Yes, he is striking out more and getting behind in the count more. His plate discipline, however, is right in line with career norms. As the season goes on we should expect to see him return to career norm production as sample sizes continue to grow.