When the Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt this offseason, they added one of the most consistent and potent hitters in all of baseball to a team sorely in need of a jolt. As players go, Goldschmidt was about as safe a bet as there is. From 2013 to 2018, he had posted a wRC+ between 133 and 163 every season. His wasn’t a story of constant reinvention and tinkering: he was basically the same hitter every year. He walked a lot, struck out a lot, hit for power, and ran a high BABIP through a combination of his surprising speed and consistently above-average line drive rate.
If that’s what the Cardinals thought they were adding to the lineup with Goldschmidt, the early returns were disappointing. Fresh off of signing a five-year extension, Goldschmidt scuffled through the first months of the season. After starting off the season strong with a three-dinger game in his second game in a Cardinals uniform, he put up some alarmingly pedestrian numbers. He ran a 123 wRC+ for March and April, not up to his usual standards, and it went downhill from there. He declined to a 104 wRC+ in May and a shocking 57 wRC+ in June.
Alarmingly, it didn’t look like luck was to blame. Goldschmidt’s .302 BABIP was below his career average, but not concerningly so. His strikeouts were up a hair and his walks were down perhaps two hairs from his Arizona form, but nothing about that screamed regression. No, Goldschmidt’s problems boiled down primarily to one thing: he stopped hitting for power. In his last six seasons with the Diamondbacks, Goldschmidt had posted an ISO in the top 20 in baseball five times. The one year he didn’t, he propped up his value with a whopping 32 steals and career-best plate discipline.
With half of the 2019 season in the books, Goldschmidt’s ISO was below league average, leading to a 97 wRC+. Not just outside the top 20, not just below .200 — it was a puny .159, smack dab between Amed Rosario and Nick Ahmed. As for propping up his value with steals and plate discipline, he had zero steals and the worst K-BB% since his rookie year. Add it all up, and he’d been worth 0.7 WAR, less value than he’d accrued in his average *month* with the Diamondbacks. Read the rest of this entry »