Goldschmidt loved playing soccer when he was a little guy.
"I didn't want to even play baseball," Paul said. "I wanted to play soccer. One of my first memories as a kid was my Mom asking me to play. She said, 'Your Dad really wants you to play baseball. Just go to one practice. If you hate it, you don't ever have to play again.' Obviously I said yes to make my Dad happy. And when I came home that day I loved baseball."
Paul worked part-time at some batting cages near his home, while in high school. "I played football in junior high but not in high school. I was kinda average size or small when I got to high school and then hit a growth spurt freshmen year. By the time I was sophomore or a junior, the football coaches were trying to recruit me a little, but I was already in love with baseball, so they had no chance (of getting me to play)," Paul said, noting that more than anything, he wanted to excel in baseball.
"He was always a good athlete growing up, but there were always better players," his dad, David said.
Paul looked thick and stiff—a graceless fielder whose swing, though productive, didn't appear likely to work at higher levels.
"People would say, 'Well, you know, his swing's a little long. Is he going to handle good pitching?'" recalls Ty Harrington, his coach at Texas State.
In 2006, Goldschmidt was a teammate of Kyle Drabek at The Woodlands High School in Texas, helping lead the team to the national high school championship.
In 2006, Paul passed up the Dodgers, who drafted him in the 49th round, choosing instead to attend Texas State.
In 2009, he set a Texas State school record with 36 career home runs. He hit 18 and led Division I with 87 RBI. But just two pro scouts showed up at his last conference tournament game. (Scouts felt his swing was not geared to hit pro pitching.)
One of them was Trip Couch, who had once coached Goldschmidt in a high school summer league and kept filing positive reports him to the Diamondbacks. Still, Couch only had a third round grade on Paul.
Goldschmidt spent a summer in Alaska playing for the Anchorage Bucs, a summer college team. Danny Wild of MiLB.com asked Paul what it was like moving from Texas to Alaska; and if he heard much Sarah Palin chatter up there.
"I mean it was awesome, I had a blast, I met a lot of good guys—they take great care of you up there," he said. "The guys have some fun with it, some of them are kind of outdoorsy, so I went fishing, stuff like that that I hadn't done before. It was before Sarah Palin was the vice presidential nominee, but she was still governor . . . I think this was the year before. I remember she threw out the first pitch before one of our games—she lived like 45 minutes away from Anchorage. It wasn't like it is now, but she was still a big deal."
- In 2009, Goldschmidt got drafted by the Diamondbacks (see Transactions below).
In 2009, Goldschmidt led the Pioneer League in home runs (18) and slugging (.638).
In 2010, Paul was named the California League's MVP award. He led the circuit in doubles (42), homers (35), extra-base hits (80), total bases (318), and slugging (.606).
In 2011, he added a Southern League MVP award.
In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Goldschmidt as the 13th-best prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization. They had him at #11 before 2011 spring training.
Asked about any superstitions or pregame routines, Goldschmidt said, "As far as special routines, if things are going well, I try to repeat it, what I ate or what shoe I put on first. If it's going bad, I'll try to mix it up as much as I can. Usually everyone eats at the clubhouse, but if I need to turn my luck around, I go out and get a hamburger from Chili's. It's kinda weird, I get the old-timer, just plain and dry . . . and it's the only place I eat my burgers like that." (Danny Wild-MiLB.com-1/05/11)
- Paul spent a previous offseason serving an internship with a pharmaceutical company that sold its products to veterinarians.
Initially he was going to work in the company's internal financial division, but when it realized his time was limited to a few months during the offseason, it didn't make sense to spend the time training him.
"I ended up just working with the sales team putting numbers into the computer and doing mundane stuff," he said.
Goldschmidt would like to finish up his finance degree—he's one year shy—but has found it challenging to fit into his baseball schedule. He is considering doing some online classes to help the process along.
Paul is married to Amy. He met his future wife during his freshman year at Texas State University in San Marcos. And the couple married in October 2010.
Goldschmidt has the utmost respect of his teammates. "He carried himself the right way from the first day he was here," veteran catcher Miguel Montero said in April 2013.
"What's not to like?" D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Everything he does [is great], from the time he gets to the park to the time he leaves every day. He's very good at preparation—before, during the game, and after. He's a great teammate. He works really hard. He has high expectations."
Aaron Hill and Goldschmidt both joined the D-backs' big league club in August 2011. Hill came over in a trade from Toronto, while Goldschmidt was called up from Double-A. But the pair got to know each other much better that offseason when they worked out together.
"I've said on a number of occasions, this is my favorite young guy that I've ever played with. Just because I love his work ethic—it's by far the best I've seen in a guy. The way he handles himself, the way he handles success, the way he handles failure, he's the same guy. It's just impressive to see from a guy who is just breaking in to have 'it.' I can't tell you exactly what 'it' is, but he has it.
"He's done well. Last year, he had a great year. But for him, he'll tell you what games he could have done better in. He's just a student of the game, which is impressive for a young guy to be that attuned to the game that way. He's only getting better, because he doesn't settle for anything less."
Todd Helton, first baseman of the Rockies said, "He's a prototypical-looking first baseman, a big guy with pop. He's got good flexibility—and not only is he a big, powerful guy, but he moves around well, he's athletic. He's going to be a good player. You can see he knows how to hit, he's not just up there all or nothing. He's got a good approach at the plate. He's a guy that will translate into a good player for a long time."
One Major League scout said, "I just like the way he goes about his business. He's made a lot of improvements, and he's a kid I kind of root for. He busts his butt. He's really improved at first base. At first, you thought, 'Well, he might be adequate,' but now he's more than adequate.
"There's no doubt the strength is there, and he doesn't give up at-bats, and that's a big thing. He's learning the league, he's learning pitchers. He always had a pretty good eye for the strike zone, but you could pitch to him. But now it's getting a little tougher. Real good velocity, he's still going to be at times behind, but you see that from Miguel Cabrera at times."
May 2013: "I'd walk him," D-backs reliever Heath Bell said when asked how he'd pitch to Goldschmidt. "He's an unbelievable player. If he was on the East Coast, he'd be one of the best in the game. I think he's one of the best in the game as it is, but he doesn't get a whole lot of limelight here in Arizona."
"It seems like Goldschmidt's been a one-man wrecking crew on us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn't really matter who is out there. He's hit our three best arms."
In June 2013, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson tried to provide answers on Goldschmidt’s rise to prominence. He praised his first baseman’s thirst for knowledge, for buying into the team’s workout regimen. He praised Goldschmidt’s ability to avoid the psychological pitfalls of the profession, for being able to deal with never-ending failure, for feeling comfortable hitting with two strikes.
Naturally, he raved about his humility.
“It’s great,” Gibson said. “He’s almost shy about it. I love it.”
And here’s why: By remaining shockingly humble, Goldschmidt has allowed the franchise to build on its team-first narrative, what Gibson calls the culture of “us.” And the more Goldschmidt refuses to indulge his own ego, instead giving all credit to his teammates, the more he helps the entire organization.
“Matt Reynolds was telling me the other day that there are two types of people in baseball: the humble and those about to be,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s a really, really tough game. And for every single guy who thinks he has it all figured, the game is quick to humble you. That’s how life is.” (Dan Bickley-Arizona Republic-6/08/13)
Paul's attitude is rare and deeply appreciated by his teammates. They went so far as to print up T-shirts that feature a picture of Goldschmidt under the words, “America’s First Baseman.”
Goldschmidt was mortified by the gesture. He begged his teammates to never wear the shirts in public. And in an era when young athletes learn quickly about self-promotion and extending their own reach, the selfless example set by the Valley’s newest star could make this season something special. (Dan Bickley-Arizona Republic-6/08/13)
Goldschmidt doesn't like talking about himself and makes it a point not to read anything written about him. He said he doesn't even watch his own team's highlights if they come on television.
Goldschmidt was so hungry to learn and to grow and to bend the ear of every coach that crossed his path that he began to defy the doubts about his defensive capability or his strikeout-prone swing. He arrived to the big leagues in 2011 and has been sparking the D-backs ever since.
There are, unquestionably, more hyped and more hounded players across the Major League spectrum, but when it comes to the 2013 standings, there are few who were as impactful as the 25-year-old Goldschmidt.
"He's carried us all year," second baseman Aaron Hill said. "Every guy in here learns something from him, as far as work ethic and how he goes about the game."
How do you define a clutch hitter? Well, there's that increasingly common assumption among statheads that "clutch hitters" are a fabrication of the mind, that past clutchness is in no way, shape, or form an indication or prediction of future clutchness. And those arguments have a lot of mathematical merit.
There is, however, such a thing as a guy who is pliable enough with his approach and calm enough in his interior to not be overcome by the game's more emotional moments. A guy like Goldschmidt, who has applied that approach and mindset and turned it into an inordinately clutch campaign.
"He's a unique guy, a unique ballplayer," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's open to suggestions and he really searches out how to be better. This is what he did in the minor leagues, and he's just progressed up through the ranks. Whatever he's going to do, he has conviction in it."
Were the D-backs certain they had a future cornerstone player on their hands when they plucked Goldschmidt out of the eighth round? Not a chance. Nor did they have a guy who felt even the least bit slighted by his Draft status or one who made it his mission to silence the skeptics. Goldschmidt was simply thrilled with the opportunity.
"I thought the eighth round was pretty good," he said with a laugh. "You know, there are 50 rounds. I went probably where I should have gone. You just try to keep getting better. There are first-rounders and 40-something-rounders who are successful. I got a decent signing bonus [$95,000] that round, and I got an opportunity to go and play every day. In rookie ball, I was in the lineup every day. In high-A, I played every day but two or three games. In Double-A, I had maybe one day off. To get those opportunities is huge, because sometimes guys don't get that."
This is the humble nature that the D-backs rave about. Ask Goldschmidt about that first Major League opportunity that came on Aug. 1, 2011, and you truly understand that, unlike so many top prospects, he never expected anything to be handed to him at this level.
"I had heard stories about guys getting called up and missing their flight and never getting another shot," he said. "So I was like, 'Just get me there.' I was trying to get from Mobile, Alabama, to San Francisco. I changed planes three times because of mechanical problems and rain delays. By the time I got to San Francisco, I was so tired I didn't even have a chance to be the guy who can't get any sleep."
One of those flights was a connection from Mobile to Houston. In the midst of a thunderstorm, it was hit by a lightning bolt. "That," he said, "was crazy."
Crazy and perhaps appropriate. The D-backs caught lightning in a bottle the day they drafted Goldschmidt. (Castrovince - mlb.com - 8/23/13)
In 2013, Goldschmidt finished a distant second to Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates for the National League MVP.
Goldschmidt, who was seeking to become the first MVP in franchise history, led the NL in home runs (36), RBIs (125), total bases (332), and OPS (.952).
Goldschmidt graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelor's of science degree in management after taking online classes in 2012 and 2013. Goldschmidt had completed three years at Texas State University before being drafted by the D-backs in 2009.
When Goldschmidt was drafted from Texas State, after his junior year, he had a 3.8 GPA as a finance major. So, after is big league job became secure in 2012, he set out to finish what he had started, taking courses online.
And he graduated in September 2013 with a degree in business management.
"I worked hard for three years, so I didn't want that all to be a waste," Goldschmidt said of why he decided to go back to school. "I love playing baseball, and I want to do it for as long as they'll let me, but you don't know—that could end any day—so you want to be prepared for whatever is coming forward in the future. A college degree can help you if you're trying to find a job or other stuff you're trying to do."
Goldschmidt learned of the University of Phoenix program while in Minor League camp with the D-backs after he saw some teammates taking courses. He began taking classes in April 2012, and other than a two-month break in the spring of 2013, he has been going at it non-stop. Goldschmidt could often be seen working at his laptop in front of his locker in the D-backs' clubhouse or on team charter flights during the season.
Part of the coursework included group projects done online, and occasionally one of his classmates would recognize his name. "I had a few people that asked, 'Hey do you play for the Diamondbacks?'" Goldschmidt said. "Everyone was really nice and supportive."
Goldschmidt has shared his experience with other players like others had done to get him interested.
"It was nice to see other guys show me how convenient it is, because I didn't think it was going to be possible during the season," Goldschmidt said. "I talked to a lot of guys during spring training. I talked to a lot of the minor league guys. I know guys were interested [in enrolling]." (Gilbert - mlb.com - 9/03/13)
Goldschmidt launched Goldy's Fund 4 Kids in partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation to help families at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The program has raised $25,000 this year, according to the release.
"Paul is a great role model in every way and continues to be a leader both on the field and off the field," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "His selfless attitude and genuine passion to help others is admirable. He represents what it means to be a D-back in every aspect." (Lichtenstein - mlb.com - 9/16/14)
When he signed with the D-backs, Goldschmidt was one year shy of graduating from Texas State University. He was determined to finish college. "Knowing that I wanted kids, I wanted to be able to set the example," Goldschmidt said. "My parents both had their college degrees, and they both talked to me a lot about education growing up. I wanted to be able to do the same for my kids."
One spring he heard some of his Minor League teammates talking about the University of Phoenix. Typical of Goldschmidt, he did his research before deciding on the University of Phoenix.
"I sought out a lot of opinions from professors I had at Texas State, other people in the business world, because I wanted to make sure going to University of Phoenix rather than the traditional route was going to have the same value, and I got really, really positive feedback," he said. "The University of Phoenix was the best option because it's really tailored specifically to people who are working full-time jobs."
During the years he worked on his degree, it was not unusual to see Goldschmidt in front of his locker in the D-backs' clubhouse with his laptop doing homework. Team charter flights on road trips were often used for school work rather than playing cards or watching movies. The result was a degree in management, and his commitment to education, and helping others get one, has not stopped there. He is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and University of Phoenix to offer several years of full-tuition scholarships to deserving individuals through the "Teaming Up for Education" scholarship. "I know how important it is to have your college degree," Goldschmidt said. "So I'm honored to be able to help others get the opportunity to get theirs as well. Hopefully together we can inspire others, change lives, and help more people graduate from college through these scholarships. (Gilbert - mlb.com - 5/2/17)
In 2015, Goldschmidt's number (37) was retired by Texas State University in San Marcos. Goldschmidt is Texas State's all-time leader in home runs and RBIs. As a junior in 2009, Goldschmidt helped lead the Bobcats to the Southland Conference championship that included a record 41 wins.
Goldschmidt becomes the first Texas State baseball player to have his jersey retired and will be just the fifth across all sports at the university.
In 2014, Goldschmidt was named the starting first baseman for the All-Star Game.
Paul was named the D-backs' recipient of the annual Heart and Hustle Award from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. He is one of 30 winners. (7/22/14)
Goldschmidt was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
When Paul was growing up, his family did not have enough money to travel much. But he and Amy have become passionate globe-hoppers, traveling to Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. On game days on the road, he likes to rise as early as he can to explore. In Washington in August 2015, he visited the Holocaust Museum before one game, and the Air and Space Museum before another.
Goldschmidt also has become an avid reader. His tastes run toward tomes that concern leadership and overcoming adversity, such as John Gordon's The Carpenter, and Viktor E. Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.
"I'm still early in my journey of reading, as I really didn't do much growing up," Paul said. He tries to apply some of the lessons from his reading to baseball, such as those he derived from Shawn Achol's The Happiness Advantage." The premise of the book is that if you're happy, you're more like to have success," Goldschmidt said. "There's a study the book talks about that found that when people are happier, their eyes work better, they see better, and focus easier."
Hitting of course, is largely a matter of seeing, so Paul began a ritual in which, 20 minutes before games, he sits in the dugout and recites quotes to himself from one of the things that make him happiest: "Billy Madison," the 1995 Adam Sandler comedy, which he has watched over 100 times. (Ben Reiter - Sports Illustrated - Aug. 27, 2015.)
Goldchmidt's teammates try to emulate his disciplined daily routine, which is detailed down to when he takes his coffee. He pours it before he takes his pregame shower, knowing it will at just the right temperature when he emerges.
His humility, which teammates insist is authentic, has made him a notoriously predictable quote among those who cover him.
"He'll hit a two run homer and come in the dugout, and the first thing he does is tell whoever was on base, 'Good job, nice at bat, nice walk, way to get on base,' or something," says pitcher Josh Collmenter. "What he is doing is secondary to what everybody else is doing."
September 3, 2015: Paul's wife Amy gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy, the couple's first child, Jake. Jake was born in the afternoon.
"It's exciting, obviously," Goldschmidt said of being a father for the first time. "Everything went smoothly. He's doing great, Amy is doing great, they're at home now. I'll be here for a couple of days and then get back."
September 18, 2015: Goldschmidt was nominated for a pair of Esurance MLB Awards in the categories of Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player.
December 2015: Goldschmidt has been the face of the D-backs' franchise since making his Major League debut in 2011 at age 23. Now, with five seasons of experience under his belt, the first baseman is the team's veteran and elder. In light of his teams new youth movement, Goldschmidt shared his memories of his own upbringing in baseball and his thoughts on baseball's next generation.
What would you tell kids who want to play baseball? First, I think it's awesome that [MLB announced its Play Ball initiative]. There is a lot that the game of baseball can teach you, whether it's teamwork, hard work paying off or dealing with failure. You can build relationships through youth sports.
What are some of your earliest baseball memories?" I got introduced to tee-ball and fell in love with the game. Growing up, I watched the Astros almost every night. I watched the All-Star Game every year. The Home Run Derby at Fenway, in particular, sticks out to me," Paul said.
Tell us about your approach when you were younger. "Honestly, I just tried to go out there and play the best I could and help whatever team I was on win. I tried to get better every day. And if I got the opportunity, which fortunately I did, I tried to take advantage of it. I didn't really worry about what anyone else was doing. I'm just lucky that the Diamondbacks gave me the opportunity to play."
Can you describe what it's like to have young ballplayers look up to you?
"I know that I am a role model to a lot of kids—and not just me, but every Major Leaguer. I make plenty of mistakes on a daily basis and there are things I wish I could take back, but it's always in the back of my mind. Kids are going to emulate their favorite players, so you want to set a good example for them." (A Duffy-Davis - MLB.com - December 22, 2015)
When he speaks to youth groups or camps, Goldschmidt tells them to have fun with whatever it is they are doing, but it's the second part of his advice that is the most powerful.
"And number two, if you work at it, that's how you get better and then you can do anything," the D-backs first baseman said. "That goes for school, music, baseball, your job, whatever it is. Only so much can come natural, but that's how you really improve, is putting in the hours trying to learn and get better."
Goldschmidt is an example of just how far hard work and a relentless focus on getting better can take you. And his story is also a cautionary tale that too often players are prejudged at a young age without acknowledging just how much they can improve over time.
D-backs catcher Chris Herrmann smiles at the recollection of playing against Goldschmidt when they were eighth-graders on Houston-area travel teams. Back then, Goldschmidt played second base and batted ninth in the lineup. Pitcher Kyle Drabek, a former first-round draft pick, grew up near Goldschmidt and played with him through high school. "He was still a good player growing up, but he was smaller, slower, more of like a contact guy, not a lot of power," Drabek said. "Once we got into high school he was about the same size, but around sophomore year he hit his growth spurt and started getting better and started playing third and first and started getting his power."
Goldschmidt, though, gained something far more important than an extra few inches between his freshman and sophomore years of high school. It was then that he began developing his work ethic, for which his father, David, deserves most of the credit. "It wasn't just about showing up," Goldschmidt said. "It was about putting in the work." Five days a week, Goldschmidt would hit the weights, run on the high school track and hit in the batting cage until his hands ached.
When his sophomore season rolled around, Goldschmidt was bigger, stronger and a little faster. The results of his work were starting to pay off, but he still had a ways to go. On a stacked varsity team, he got all of seven at-bats.
"I still did the same thing after that year—all the way through college to now," Goldschmidt said of his dedication to working out. "You really don't know mechanics, I mean you're just so young. But the one thing you can do is do the work. You can run the sprints, hit the weight room, hit in the cage. I'm sure I did too much work in the weight room and hit too much to where my hands were hurting and I wasn't really getting better, but that was all I knew—just more swings, more swings, more ground balls, more ground balls."
It was enough to earn him a starting spot his junior and senior seasons, but he did not wow professional baseball scouts or college recruiters. Goldschmidt didn't get any major college offers and was drafted in the 49th round by the Dodgers. Texas State University offered Goldschmidt a scholarship, and he played there for three seasons before being drafted by the D-backs in 2009. (Gilbert - MLB.com - 3/8/16)
Goldschmidt realized that when he started at each level of baseball he was not as good as the guys in front of him. But he did believe he could get better if he focused each and every day on doing so.
"It wasn't because I wanted to be a big leaguer," Goldschmidt said of when he began working hard in high school. "At that point, I just wanted to make the varsity team. Once that happened, I wanted to start. And once that happened, that summer after the sophomore year we had a lot of guys who went and played Division I baseball at big schools like Rice, University of Texas, and not that I was as good as those guys, but I could compete with them, and in a couple of years I hoped to get to play in college.
"Then in college, I didn't get to go to one of the top schools, but I got to compete against those guys and just figured if I could just keep getting better, who knows what could happen. It was the same thing in pro ball, too. I competed against the top prospects, and maybe they have more skills or they're better, but it was like, man, hopefully I can put in the work during the season and the offseason and hopefully get better and eventually catch up and get to the big leagues."
Goldschmidt didn't just reach the Major Leagues, he became a star. A three-time All-Star, he's started in the 2014 and 2015 Midsummer Classics and he has twice finished second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting. Yet he still works just as hard as ever, because it's not about personal goals or stats for him at this point.
"You want to get out there and help your team, and I know that's a cliche, but I believe it," he said. "This is a team sport and you don't want to let your teammates down. You want to make every play on defense because it's that pitcher's earned run and your team's run. You want to get on base so the next guy can drive you in." (Gilbert - MLB.com - 3/8/16)
You've heard of parents who push their kids to practice countless hours in hopes of raising a professional player, but in the Goldschmidt household, it was the other way around. Sure, David and Kim encouraged their son to follow his dreams and supported him unconditionally, but it was Paul who asked his father for endless rounds of batting practice.
"I dragged him to the batting cage with me," Paul said of David. "I don't think he can throw anymore, because he threw so much batting practice. In fact, I know he can't, because he tore his shoulder. If I wanted to go hit or take ground balls, he would find the time. I don't think he ever said 'no'. He sacrificed a lot of time and effort and money to be there for me and my two brothers."
It wasn't just what David said, but how he lived his life that provided a blueprint for his oldest son to follow. First, as a husband to his wife, Amy, and now as a father to Jake, who is almost a year old. "He was an unbelievable example as a dad and a father, and a husband, too," Paul said. "He worked extremely hard at everything he did, which I think taught me a lot of life lessons. I was very fortunate to have both my mom and him."
Paul grew up in Houston, and he and David would often watch Astros games on TV. "We watched all sports, but baseball was always our favorite," Paul said. "We would watch the games and we were obviously watching as fans, but he used it as a teaching moment to point out things guys did right or wrong, and kind of tried to teach me what he thought was the correct way to play."
When it came to playing, David encouraged Paul to try a multitude of sports—roller hockey, basketball, football and soccer. Baseball, though, was what Paul loved the most, and he couldn't get enough of it. David put a net in the garage so Paul could hit off the tee and take flips. Though he traveled often for his job, David made sure he was home on the weekends, and no matter how tired he was, he always found time for his kids.
"He hit me fungoes, and I wasn't the easiest kid to work with, because I would get angry," Goldy said. "I mean, I still do. I'm just a little bit better at controlling it and not showing it."
While they didn't push Paul or his two brothers, David and Kim made it clear that there were two hard-and-fast rules when it came to sports. First, Paul was not going to be able to play if he didn't keep his grades up. Second, if he signed up for a sport, he had to finish the season.
"They had their principles that they were very strict on," Paul said. "School, honestly, came No. 1 for them. And once you committed to play [a sport], you had to stick it out. I think about the way my mom and he raised me. I appreciate all the stuff they did and all the sacrifices they made. They never went on a vacation that wasn't for us to go play a sporting event. They were just always there and loving us and just trying to teach us. And they let us grow up and be independent and live our own lives." (Gilbert - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
Why do you wear No. 44, Paul Goldschmidt? "It was the number they gave me. When I was first called up, I was not in a position to request a certain number, so I wore that. I was just happy to have my own jersey in the big leagues."
How is it juggling fatherhood and baseball for the first time?
Goldschmidt: "It's definitely a lot more work at home now, so I don't have as much free time. Walking into the clubhouse, it's no different, of course. But when I'm home, it's different. My wife has been awesome handling things at home. We have some more help, too, but this is what everyone goes through when they have a baby. "(Greene - MLB.com - 6/28/16)
July 2016: Goldschmidt represented the D-backs as a National League All-Star for the fourth consecutive season, this time in the All-Star Game at Petco Park. That streak matches Randy Johnson (1999-2002) for most consecutive All-Star appearances as a D-back. Johnson and Luis Gonzalez hold the overall record of five.
December 2016: Goldschmidt committed to play for the USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Goldschmidt's father is Jewish and his mother is Catholic. By the grace of God or by good fortune, Goldschmidt's great grandparents made it out of Nazi Germany prior to the Holocaust. It was 1938. Their son—Paul's grandfather, Ernie—was 5 years old.
The details have become murky with the passage of time, but this much Paul knows: Ilse Goldschmidt's family owned a thriving printing company in Germany. But she and her husband, Paul, knew the dangers that lurked in their native country. They were the lucky ones, who found sponsors in Boston and fled to the U.S., Goldschmidt told MLB.com.
"They were living in Germany and they figured out what was going to happen to them," Goldschmidt said. "All three of them got out and were sponsored by someone. I don't know who. That's what I understand." The little family struggled to make ends meet, but they saved their lives. Ilse sold candy door-to-door and Paul eventually opened a luncheonette.
Ernie grew into a strapping young man who followed his dad into the food service business. He eventually married and had a son, David. David met Kim in college when the two attended Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. They married and had three boys. Paul is the oldest of the three and was born in Wilmington, Del. The family flooring business took them all to Dallas and eventually Houston.
"Lucky they got over here," Goldschmidt said about his German ancestors. "My grandfather was able to father my dad and him me, and here I am standing here now. I'm sure there are many other similar stories. Not just the Jewish people, but other people as well who were able to escape horrible situations and were able to survive."
For the record, all three of the Goldschmidt boys were brought up under the Catholic faith and attended church growing up. It's tradition in Judaism that if the mother is Jewish, a child is automatically considered part of that faith. If the father is Jewish, it's up to the parents to decide.
No matter. Paul respects his Jewish heritage and understands what his ancestors had to do to give him the great life he leads as a baseball star. "We know our Jewish history and we respect those beliefs," Goldschmidt said. "We had both sides of it as kids. My dad's side, my mom's side. We were exposed to all of it." Passover, Easter, Chanukah, Christmas.
The best of both worlds. Goldschmidt is a premier player, a four-time National League All-Star in his first six seasons. For all his success, Paul plays with a quiet confidence and hardly craves the spotlight. He's a polite and private person, who only a few years ago completed his undergraduate degree via the University of Phoenix, taking his final classes online. Goldschmidt did that to honor both himself and to fulfill a promise to his family.
When asked about his family history, one fully expected that Goldschmidt might want to remain quiet about it. Not so. He gave a resounding green light to write this story. He's obviously proud of it. Sports Illustrated printed a few graphs describing Goldschmidt's background without his comments two years ago in a lengthy magazine piece that concentrated on his baseball prowess. But this is the first time he has spoken openly about it.
Goldschmidt is obviously aware that for so many youngsters, like his grandfather, things didn't work out the same way. The stories of death, destruction and survival are legion and there's no need to recount them again here. He's well-aware of the fact there are serious lessons to be learned and all that can never be allowed to happen again.
His grandfather is still alive and well and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Goldschmidt said. His grandmother, Roz, died of cancer "when I was in the fifth or sixth grade."
Goldschmidt sees his grandfather two or three times a year, as well as his grandmother on his mother's side. At 29, he is married himself, and has a son, Jacob. Clearly, Goldschmidt's family and where it came from is very important to him.
"I'm very proud of my family's heritage on both sides," Goldschmidt said. "It's a big part of me." (Bloom - mlb.com - 4/6/17)
Paul's drive originates with his family. His great-grandmother, Ilse Goldschmidt, was an heiress to one of the largest printing companies in Germany. But in 1938 she and her husband, Paul, and their 5-year-old son, Ernie, fled the Nazis and reestablished their lives in Boston.
While his father's side of the family is Jewish, Paul and his two younger brothers, Adam and Robert, adopted their mother's Christian faith."
They didn't have two nickles to rub together," says Goldschmidt's father, David. Ilse sold candy door-to-door in Brookline, and Paul worked in the food industry. By the 1960s, he had opened a luncheonette, called Eatwell Restaurant, on Boston's St. James Avenue.
Ernie also worked in the food business, owning a series of restaurants and catering operations. David would go into flooring, and he and his wife, Kim, were eventually able to move their young family into the affluent Houston suburb of The Woodlands.
"I think the best way to put it is, we didn't need for anything, but we wanted for things," says Paul. (Ben Reiter - Sports Illustrated - -8/27/15)
Paul's career snuck up on a lot of people. Goldschmidt, a four-time All-Star and twice a runner-up for Most Valuable Player, was not highly recruited out of high school. He wasn't selected in the draft until the eighth round in 2009, and never ranked at the top of any prospect list.
What wasn't taken into consideration was his commitment—both on and off the field—to learning, and thereby getting better. "Even before I was drafted I was always trying to learn and get better," Goldschmidt said. "But then even once I was drafted it wasn't like, 'Hey, I'm in Single-A. How do I get to the big leagues?' It was more can I get better each day here and try to compete, and let the future kind of be its own thing."
Goldschmidt made it to the big leagues on Aug. 1, 2011, but his quest to get better didn't end. "It was never like I had it all figured out," he said. "It was, 'OK, you know that's good, but I've got to keep getting better,' and to me, the way you get better is to keep learning, and keep putting the work in."
Paul makes a living crushing baseballs. A few hours before taking the field against the Detroit Tigers on May 9, 2017, he hit the books just as hard.
Goldschmidt surprised teacher LaToya Jones, one of this month's Most Valuable Teachers, and read to her second grade class at Edison Elementary School as part of National Teacher Appreciation Day. The All-Star read a children's book that features the D-backs' first baseman and their mascot named "D. Baxter STEMs Space Invasion!"
"It was a big surprise. Wow," Jones said. "I had no idea, and I'm a little emotional right now. I didn't feel underappreciated at all. This is crazy. I'm very excited and very happy. I work with a great team of people and a lot of great teachers, support staff. The kids are the best. It makes me excited to come to work every day."
The cause is close to Goldschmidt's heart. It was his high school literature teacher who inspired his love of reading. "We all know how important education is, especially at this young age, where the teachers are a huge influence on these kids," Goldschmidt said. "To be able to give a small 'Thank You' and come down here and meet the students and the teachers is pretty cool."
"I was actually sending an email to the principal about something that happened on the playground," Jones said. "So when the door opened, I thought it was he and I was like, 'Oh, he got here really fast,' and then I saw the cameras."
Count Jones as a new Goldschmidt fan. Her focus is on family and educating children, so it's understandable that she didn't recognize the first baseman when he walked through her classroom door.
"I felt like I should know him because he's really tall," Jones joked. "I'm like, 'You look important, I need to know who you are.' We won't forget now." (Sanchez - mlb.com - 5/9/17)
Paul Goldschmidt is the most overlooked superstar in the game. Folks also have used words such as ignored, underappreciated, and forgotten to describe the career of this Gold Glove first baseman with the potent bat and the efficient legs in his seventh year with the D-backs.
When was the first time Goldschmidt began hearing these things, and how do they make him feel? "I don't know, man, because I honestly don't read papers or check out social media or watch anything, so I really couldn't tell you," Goldschmidt said.
In case you're wondering, he really is the most overlooked, ignored, underappreciated and forgotten superstar in the game, which doesn't make sense. Goldschmidt reflected some more on his lack of fame becoming a growing talking point, and he said, "It really doesn't have any sort of an effect on me, so I can't say whether I'm tired of it or not."
All I know is, when the subject is Goldschmidt, it involves somebody who has spent the majority of his time in the Major Leagues operating between great and greater. He is a lifetime .300-plus hitter, and he averages 30 home runs and 108 RBIs per season. He also spends most years near the top of the National League in walks. Paul shook his head, but only because he is telling the truth when he says he couldn't care less about prospering away from the shadows.
"I guess I'll take it as a compliment that people say [I'm overlooked] or underrated, because I guess that means I'm playing well," Goldschmidt said, easing into a smile. "But to tell you the truth, if it was the other way, and people said I was an overrated player, I wouldn't let that affect me, either. I don't pay a lot of attention to things, whether it's good or bad."
Has anybody ever said anything bad about Goldschmidt? Not that I've seen or heard, but center fielder A.J. Pollock would know better as a teammate for the past six seasons of the D-backs' best player.
"In the baseball world, and when you're playing the game, you can kind of look around the league and beyond and see the kind of respect Paul gets from the players themselves," Pollock said. "When I pop on TV, and I see baseball, they're not talking about him, for sure. But when you're talking about the best baseball player in the league, he's got to be in the conversation, because of all the things he does. He's a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman. He runs the bases. He hits for power, and he hits for average. He's carried our team.
"So, yeah. I can't speak for the so-called experts out there on the game, but from his teammates, I can tell you he gets a lot of respect."
Then again, whether you're Goldschmidt's teammate or not, you have to cherish somebody who prospers at the game with consistency, not only because he is natural, but also because he works at it. (Moore - mlb.com - 7/20/17)
Just wondering: Given the slew of sparkling years in the Major Leagues for Goldschmidt, has one stood out more than the others? He paused.
"I think my first year, simply because we made the playoffs," Goldschmidt said. "I've had some individually good years, and that's nice, but I think as a team, when you have success, it makes it that much sweeter. To enjoy success with a bunch of guys rather than just with yourself is a lot more fun."
Did I mention Goldschmidt also is a team guy? (Moore - mlb.com - 7/20/17)
2017 season: Goldschmidt is an all-around contributor, as his mantle will attest. He won his third Gold Glove Award this season as well as his third Silver Slugger Award.
At the plate, Goldschmidt was third in the NL in runs (117) and fourth in RBIs (120), walks (94) and extra-base hits (73). His on-base percentage (.404) and OPS (.966) ranked fifth. Defensively, he ranked second among NL first basemen in defensive runs saved (10) and first in total zone runs—the number of runs above or below average a player was worth based on the number of plays made—with 15. He finished third in the MVP voting.
Feb 23, 2018: D-backs infielder Daniel Descalso walked away with the top score, but the real winner in Goldy's Bowling Bash! was Phoenix Children's Hospital. D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and his wife, Amy, have made Phoenix Children's Hospital the focus of their charitable efforts for years and the second annual bowling event drew a star-studded crowd and raised money for PCH.
Along with Goldschmidt's teammates, Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Giants catcher Buster Posey, Indians lefty Andrew Miller and Angels outfielder Justin Upton were on hand to lend their support.
"It was a lot of fun," Goldschmidt said. "We had a great turnout, and I'm very thankful for all my teammates and everyone who came and supported us from other teams and other sports. I think everyone had a good time, and we raised money for PCH."
Descalso's score of 190 not only won him the individual trophy, which was a bowling pin autographed by Goldschmidt, but also gave his team a victory. Descalso was paired with outfielder A.J. Pollock and one of the event's sponsors. (S Gilbert - MLB.com - Feb 23, 2018)
July 2018 : Goldschmidt was selected to play reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
Dec 7, 2018: After being acquired for a gaggle of prospects, newest Cardinal Paul Goldschmidt had his introductory press conference at Busch Stadium. But that wasn't the only thing on the stadium's docket, as a whole group of elementary school children were scheduled to take a tour of the Cards' ballyard. As fate would have it, the two parties serendipitously converged in the concourse resulting in a pretty adorable photo opportunity for everyone involved.
Who would have thought that Goldy's first act as a member of the Cardinals' organization would be to brighten the days of St. Louis' youth? That my friends, is the Cardinal Way. The Cardinals probably could not have found a more perfect fit than Paul Goldschmidt—that's on the field and in the clubhouse and community. If there's a prototype of what a Major League player should be, he is it. It's really that simple.
"I don't know a player in baseball that doesn't want to play here," Goldschmidt said. "There are organizations known for greatness, and this is one of them."
Goldschmidt will come to love St. Louis, where it's always baseball season, and where Busch Stadium is packed and players are held accountable. That intensity fits his own makeup. And every new generation of Cardinals is compared to every other. To Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, and Orlando Cepeda. To Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols. (J Mintz and R Justice - MLB.com - Dec 7, 2018)
Dec 23, 2018: Before being traded to the Cardinals, Goldschmidt had spent his entire professional baseball career in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He was drafted out of Texas State by the team in 2009, he was an offensive juggernaut in the Minor Leagues, and his first big league dinger was a rocket off two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.
He's arguably the most decorated player to ever put on a D-backs uniform and, because of his talents and business-as-usual demeanor, a bonified fan favorite. With all that in mind, Goldy decided to repay the Arizona faithful with a nice thank-you letter in the local paper. To all the people who first saw his baseball dreams come true. Let's hope, for D-backs fans sakes, he doesn't hurt them too bad when the Cardinals come to town next year. (M Monagan - MLB.com - Dec 23, 2018)
Paul started a pregame prayer time for teammates.
July 12, 2019: For eight years, Paul Goldschmidt was “the guy” for the Arizona Diamondbacks. A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Goldschmidt was a staple at first base in Arizona as other players came and went. But on this night, he was at first base at Busch Stadium in a Cardinals jersey, greeting his former teammates when they get on base.
“For my entire career until this year being in the big leagues, Goldy was our guy,” D-backs right-hander Archie Bradley said. “He was the guy that we counted on to carry us when we were down, carry us when we were good, lead by example, lead by face. And now he’s essentially the face of another team already, and you’re game planning. He’s still one of those guys you’re not going to let beat you. Now you’re going to do your best to contain him.”
Goldschmidt isn’t making too big a deal of seeing his former team. He’ll return to Arizona in September, when the Cardinals play the D-backs at Chase Field. He arrived at the ballpark early to meet up with his close friends, coaches and training staff before getting ready for the game.
“Honestly once the game starts, it won’t be anything too different,” Goldschmidt said. “You go out there and try to win a ballgame.”
Before the game, Goldschmidt reflected on the trade that sent catcher Carson Kelly and pitcher Luke Weaver to the D-backs. Goldschmidt said he had a sense a trade was coming, and when he got to Spring Training with the Cardinals, he fit right in.
“The only organization I knew was the Diamondbacks, and it was almost a decade of me being there,” Goldschmidt said. “You go somewhere new, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Definitely [went] in with an open mind, I’m the new guy, trying to fit in. It happened pretty quickly. Once the game starts, baseball is baseball, and that’s what I thought going in, but for it to actually happen like that, you’re not really sure. That’s what happened.”
Goldschmidt signed a six-year extension with the Cardinals before the 2019 season even started, an indication of how the Cardinals think Goldschmidt fits in St. Louis—and how Goldschmidt thinks he fits with the Cardinals.
“I always had respect for this organization playing against them,” Goldschmidt said. “Not just the success they’ve had, just knowing the guys here and the organization. I was more excited they wanted to keep me more than anything. It was definitely a big honor. Try to go out there and play well and help us win.”
While Goldschmidt didn’t comment on if an extension would have happened if he had stayed with the D-backs, he had nothing but high praise for his former team.
“I loved my time with Arizona,” Goldschmidt said. “I loved everything about it. I can’t say enough good things, from ownership down to the people at the ballpark that were taking care of my family. I lived there, everything was great about it. The players, the coaching staff, front office, I don’t have a bad thing to say.” (A Rogers - MLB.com - July 12, 2019)
Oct 25, 2019: Before Paul Goldschmidt even had taken his first official at-bat with his new team, he signed a contract extension that made him a Cardinal through 2024.
Now, after one year together, the Cardinals and Goldschmidt have no regrets about the long-term commitment they agreed to in Spring Training -- just three months after he was traded to the Cardinals. The transition was seamless, and Goldschmidt fit in easily with the Cardinals’ mix of youth and veteran players in 2019.
Of course, Goldschmidt still has parts of his game he can improve on, but he brought a big bat, solid defense and veteran leadership to a team that was looking to reassert itself in the division and in the postseason -- a goal St. Louis accomplished this year, in part because of Goldschmidt’s contributions.
What went right?
You can look at Goldschmidt’s team-leading 34 home runs (just two shy of his career best), his team-leading 97 RBIs, his 25 doubles, his 78 walks or his .821 OPS as evidence that his bat helped the Cardinals.
Beyond the damage to opposing teams that he did at the plate, a lot of what went right this season were things that don’t pop out when skimming Goldschmidt’s stats. Perhaps the biggest addition was his fielding; the first baseman helped stabilize a Cardinals defense that went from committing the most errors in the Majors in 2018 (133) to the fewest in 2019 (66). With the help of second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong, Goldschmidt was part of the most double plays in the Majors with 145. He’s a Gold Glove Award finalist this year, looking for his fourth win.
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt didn’t overlook that side of the game when he assessed the trade and extension that made Goldschmidt a Cardinal.
“When [Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak] called me ... initially, I was like, ‘Heck yeah. Paul Goldschmidt. Let’s go,’” Shildt said. “And then I started to look at it ... and [it] started to [dovetail] into what we were already doing defensively. And I called him back and was like, ‘I know there’s a lot of factors in this deal. And every factor has its own allocation of importance. Please do not minimize his defensive importance to the team moving forward and what it can do for it.’”
What went wrong?
Goldschmidt had career lows in average (.260), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.476) this year, due to a slow first half, but he still managed those team-leading home runs and RBIs.
Coupled with that sluggish start, Goldschmidt’s team-leading 166 strikeouts -- 11th most in the Majors -- were alarming, even if he was a little short of his most strikeouts in a season (173 in 2018). He struck out nine times and recorded just one hit in 16 at-bats as the Cards were swept by the Nationals in the National League Championship Series. As Goldschmidt and cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna went this season, so too did the St. Louis offense -- and when the two power hitters failed to produce, the Cardinals offense fizzled.
“It’s on me, that’s [how] I look at it,” Goldschmidt said after Game 4 of the NLCS. “If I did a better job, I think the results could have been different. They weren’t. It is what it is. ... [I] would’ve liked to play better, especially this series, and win and get a chance to win the World Series. [I’ll] do everything in my power to improve, get better this offseason, come back and try to help us win next year, 2020.”
While Goldschmidt brought a lot of intangibles with him to St. Louis, his offense was the main reason the Cardinals wanted him in the lineup. He justified that often this season -- remember when he homered in six straight games? And his three-homer game against the Brewers in the second game of the season?
After debuting for the Cardinals with three strikeouts on March 28, Goldschmidt came back on March 29 and went 4-for-5 with three home runs and five RBIs in the Cardinals’ 9-5 win over Milwaukee. The game showed just how lethal the Cardinals lineup could be when Goldschmidt was producing in the middle.
Goldschmidt ended up as somewhat of a Milwaukee masher; he had a two-homer game in September against the Brewers and had a .644 slugging percentage against Milwaukee this year. He was to the Brewers what Christian Yelich was to the Cardinals.
The 32-year-old Goldschmidt will continue to anchor the defense at first base and the offense in the middle of the lineup in 2020. The Cards will count on Goldschmidt to be more consistent with his production, especially at the beginning of the year.
One thing is certain: The Cardinals have found their first baseman for the foreseeable future. They’ve embraced Goldschmidt, and he has embraced St. Louis.
“Everything I heard from the outside [about the Cardinals] was true,” Goldschmidt said. “This organization was great. They welcomed us very quickly, treated me and my family great. The city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri, all the people around town and the fans at the games and when I’d see people around town, they were great. Loved everything about it. Really just thankful for the opportunity. I love it here.” (A Rogers - MLB.com - Oct 25, 2019)
June 2009: Paul signed with the Diamondbacks after they chose him in the 8th round of the draft, out of Texas State University. Scout Trip Couch got him a $95,000 bonus. (Editor's note: What a bargain for the D'Backs.)
With his bonus, Paul said his biggest purchase was an engagement ring for his wife, whom he married not too long after signing with the Diamondbacks.
March 29, 2013: The Diamondbacks and Goldschmidt reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension worth $32 million. The extension includes a club option of $14.5 million in 2018. (Editor's note: What a bargain for the D'Backs.)
Oct 29, 2018: The D-backs picked up Goldschmidt's contract option for the 2019 season, guaranteeing the first baseman $14.5 million next season, his final one before becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.
December 5, 2018: The Cardinals sent RHP Luke Weaver, top-50 MLB prospect C Carson Kelly, INF Andy Young, and their 2019 Competitive Balance Round B Pick to the Diamondbacks, who sent Goldschmidt to St. Louis. Goldy becomes a free agent after the 2019 season.
- March 23, 2019: The Cards and Goldschmidt agreed on a five-year extension worth $130 million. Adding the contract to the $14.5 million it's paying him this season, St. Louis is getting Goldschmidt’s age 31-36 seasons for $144 million; he’ll turn 37 in the final year of the contract.
|DOB:||9/10/1987||Agent:||Excel Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Wilmington, DE|
|Draft:||Diamondbacks #8 - 2009 - Out of Texas State Univ.|
A true power hitter, Goldschmidt has a simple hitting approach. He is aggressive at the plate, though his swing can get long. He has learned to hit the ball to all three fields and can hit it out to any part of the park. Unlike many other power hitters, Paul is not a dead pull hitter. His strength is to the opposite field.
Hitting coaches talk about a hitter's ability to get his bat in the hitting zone early. The longer it's in the zone, the better chance he has of hitting any type of pitch. Goldschmidt isn't a swing mechanics nut like some of his teammates, but he seemingly naturally does a lot of things hitters are trained to do. His bat is quick, powerful and Paul doesn't waste movement, and his bat is in the zone a tremendous amount of time.
Paul is known fro his studious approach to hitting, a side he'll rarely put on display to reporters. If he's asked about his mindset during an at-bat, he'll almost always say something generic. Teammates, however, rave about the detailed approach he'll take into each at-bat, saying they learn things from talking to him about his approach in certain counts or against certain type of pitchers.
"I always talk to him because I pick his brain and learn from him," D'Backs outfielder David Peralta said late in 2017. "What he does.is, he always has a good game plan. If he's looking for something, he's not going to stray from it. For example, he might go up there looking for a fastball, outside, and if the pitcher keeps pounding him in, he's not going to swing. He's got that approach, that discipline, to do that. That's hard to do. But if he gets that pitch, he's not going to miss it. He'll make them pay." (Nick Piecoro - Arizona Republic - September, 2017)
Paul can turn around a pitcher's mistake in a hurry. He has big power to all three fields. He can hit the ball as far down the right field line as he can down the left field line. He has a good swing path.
Goldschmidt has outstanding balance and doesn't have many moving parts in his swing, so there's minimal wasted effort getting his swing started. He's strong, keeps his weight back well and stays within his swing, driving the ball for plus-plus power to all fields.
Paul allows the ball to go deep in the zone before he rips at the ball from a very short, very quick stroke.
He's prone to chasing high fastballs and always will have a high strikeout rate, but he'll also draw plenty of walks and maintain a high OBP.
Goldschmidt is short and direct to the ball. He is explosive but with a controlled approach.
He has a great eye at the plate.
Back in 2011, Mobile manager Turner Ward said, "Goldschmidt has a combination of strength and bat speed and is able to use his lower half. Any guy who's got good power potential, they really use their lower half, and that's what he does—he really uses his lower half to get himself through the ball."
Paul had already impressed then-D'Backs' manager Kirk Gibson during spring training, especially with one of his situational at-bats during an exhibition game. With runners on the corners and the infield in, he fouled off of a two-strike pitch and laid off a breaking ball before driving an RBI single to centerfield.
"That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for guys that are going to dig in in those situations. I don't want to see guys just pulling off the ball. 'Goldy' is a young kid, and he shows some spirit about himself. I like it," Gibson said.
Goldschmidt makes adjustments at the plate according to the way he's being pitched. He is advanced at the mental part of the hitting game. He's willing to accept a walk.
April 6, 2014: Paul's hitting streak come to an end at 26 games. Goldschmidt's streak dated back to the previous season. And it was the second longest in franchise history behind Luis Gonzalez's 30-game streak in 1999.
- June 10, 2015: It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows D-backs first baseman Goldschmidt that he had no idea the two-run homer he hit in the fifth inning against the Dodgers was the 100th of his career.
"I only knew because after the game [equipment manager Roger Riley] brought me the ball and asked me to sign a bat for the guy that caught it," Goldschmidt said prior to the series opener against the Giants.
Goldschmidt became the sixth player to collect 100 homers in a D-backs uniform. He accomplished it in 521 at-bats.
While some players like to collect memorabilia and autographs, Goldschmidt shies away from that.
"It will probably go in the closet for a few years and then I'll find it one day down the road," he said of his plans for the 100th home run ball. "I don't know. I'll probably put it somewhere, but I'm not a big collector or anything like that, so it will be cool for someone who enjoys that stuff more than I do." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - June 12, 2015)
Sitting in front of his locker before a mid-June, 2015 game, Goldschmidt, one of the elite hitters in baseball, spoke with MLB.com about his mental approach to the game.
So just how much of his success does he credit to the mental side of the game?
"A super high percentage," Goldschmidt says. "I don't know if you're saying 95 percent, 75 percent, but it's up there. Because I know physically I was talented, I was good at a young age, so there's definitely that part of it. But to get to the big leagues and have success … how you improve is by the mental side."
Goldschmidt started learning and improving his mental approach in the Minor Leagues through his work with Minor League manager Turner Ward and hitting coach Alan Zinter.
An eighth-round pick in the 2009 draft, Goldschmidt was not a highly regarded prospect. Scouts felt he had a long swing and was below-average defensively. He got comps to Steve "Bye-Bye" Balboni, for example. That may have been true, but what they didn't take into account was a mentality that would allow him to make the necessary adjustments.
Ward, D-backs' hitting coach, and Zinter, who is the Astros' assistant hitting coach, would talk with Goldschmidt about how to deal with the failure inherent in a sport whose best hitters don't get hits seven out of 10 times as well as how to never give away at-bats regardless of the score.
"I think those guys started putting it into my head things I didn't realize at the time would be considered a mental part of the game," Goldschmidt said. "But then when you start to learn, you look back and you realize those guys were awesome and taught me so much. Maybe I would have even made the big leagues without those guys, but I wouldn't have been as successful." (Gilbert - mlb.com - 6/23/15)
Mind mentors: When Goldschmidt got to the D-backs in August of 2011, he met Peter Crone, a mind and performance coach. Crone has worked with the D-backs since 2009 and when he and Goldschmidt met, they immediately hit it off.
"He helps you take a lot of stress and worry out of things," Goldschmidt said. "Whether it's a fear of failure or really any type of fear, we all have fears or think too much about the future or the past and let that affect us. He just tries to put you in a state of mind where you're focused, but relaxed. It helps you get the distractions out of your head whether it's a fear of failure or worrying about results."
A year later, Goldschmidt crossed paths with former big leaguer Steve Springer, who has worked with players for years on their mental approaches. "His main message is that you focus on the process," Goldschmidt said. "You want to have a quality at-bat and hit the ball hard. If you're able to do that, then it's a successful at-bat regardless of the outcome."
Staying humble: Trying to get Goldschmidt to say something about his success is a difficult endeavor. Once you understand his mental approach to the game, though, you can see why that's the case.
"If you start thinking because you had a 3-for-4 game or are on a good streak that now you're the greatest or you have it all figured out, then the next day when you go 0-for-4, what do you say then, I'm the worst player?" Goldschmidt said. "I just try to be honest. I'm not thinking about all those things that people are asking me about."
Always learning: Look in Goldschmidt's locker at home or on the road and you'll always find a book. Sometimes it is a business book, other times it is "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, which Crone recommended.
Goldschmidt meticulously records notes in the back of the book of things he wants to remember. Some books he'll take more out of than others, but he's always on the lookout for some new piece of information.
When Goldschmidt is in the dugout, he's talking baseball with Ward, or a teammate, trying to pick up even the tiniest bit of information.
When Goldschmidt was on the disabled list for the final two months of last season, he made sure to get his rehab work in early so he could always be behind the batting cage during batting practice, with the belief that there would be something he could learn by watching Ward work with other hitters.
"Maybe you read a book and there's only one thing you get out of it, but know you're a little bit better because you took that one little quote from it," Goldschmidt said. "It's the same thing when talking with teammates about hitting. Maybe I'm talking with A.J. [Pollock] and he says 10 things and I just take one of his things and the other nine you let go. That's why I always try to ask questions and talk with the hitting coach, or manager, or watch other guys."
Taking it to another level: Goldschmidt realized that his talks with Crone were helping on the field, so he decided to work even more on a one-on-one basis with him. The lessons not only help him on the baseball field, but off it as well.
"He has a program where he works with athletes and actors and businessmen and so we've been doing a more detailed program this year," Goldschmidt said. "We had been talking about it for a while. Every time he'd come around, we'd have a great conversation and I'd feel like I was in a better place mentally and I was like, why don't I do that more often? Physically, I'm not really going to get that much better, so the mental side is pretty much the best way to try and improve." (Gilbert - mlb.com - 6/23/15)
August 26, 2015: His homer was the 108th of Goldschmidt's career, tying him with Justin Upton for fifth place on the Diamondback franchise's all-time list.
August 3, 2017: Paul drove in six runs and belted three homers, including a tie-breaking solo shot with one out in the ninth inning, to power Arizona to a 10-8 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"It's crazy," Goldschmidt said. "I know I've never hit three home runs. And then to win that game—it was a good one for our team. We were ahead early and they came back, then we came back, and they tied it up. It was just back and forth. They're such a good team, so it was a good [win]."
Aug 25, 2017: Zack Greinke has played alongside plenty of great players during his 14-year career. When asked where Paul Goldschmidt ranks among past teammates, only one name immediately comes to Greinke's mind. "He's obviously really good and up there with anyone," Greinke said after Arizona's 4-3 win over the Giants at Chase Field. "Besides maybe Mike Trout, because that's how everyone in baseball is."
While Goldschmidt's 381-foot homer provided the spark for the D-backs in the first tilt of a six-game homestand, it also gave the 29-year-old first baseman a career milestone. The blast was Goldschmidt's 30th of the season, and with the three runs he drove home, he now has 101 RBIs on the year. Goldschmidt is the first player in club history to record three 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. (Luis Gonzales had two such seasons for the D-backs. And Mark Reynolds, Jay Bell, Matt Williams and Steve Finley each had one.)
"My focus is not on any numbers or individual stuff; we're here in the playoff race," Goldschmidt said. "I'm just trying to win the game and find a way to help us win, and we've got to do the same thing again. Regardless of what happens, my focus, good or bad, is just take it day by day, and I think all the guys in the locker room are doing the same thing."
"I think people are starting to recognize who he is league-wide," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "I think inside of the game, every player knows Paul Goldschmidt and I think nationally a lot of people, journalists, are starting to recognize that he's a pretty special player. What more could you ask for? For me, I've been saying now for half a season, he is a severe MVP candidate." "Now I'll get specific because I get to watch him work and perform every single day," Lovullo said. "I'm honored to be sitting in the same dugout as him. I still get giddy when he sits next to me and talks to me and I have to pinch myself and think, 'That's Paul Goldschmidt.' I'm just honored to be around him. That's how I feel." (J Denney - MLB.com - Aug 26, 2017)
August 31, 2017: When Paul scored on an A.J. Pollock homer, he became the first player in D-backs history with four 100-run seasons.
"That was awesome," Gregor Blanco said. "He's the guy, you know? He's the guy who always comes up in the big situation and comes through. I'm just really proud to play on a team with him. He's awesome to watch."
"He's our guy," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "It's pretty consistent every single time we're doing something, he's right in the middle of it. He's an amazing player, he's got a great plan, he's got a great approach. He's just locked in and cares about every at-bat and never gives anything away. This guy has been all-everything, and he deserves some strong MVP consideration." (Denney - mlb.com)
November 9, 2017: Goldschmidt won his 3rd Silver Slugger Award.
August 3, 2018: Goldschmidt hit his 200th career home run.
Nov. 8, 2018: Paul won his fourth Silver Slugger Award.
March 29, 2019: Two games into a burgeoning six-year stay with the Cardinals, and Paul Goldschmidt has already carved a place in the franchise record books.
Goldschmidt followed up a rather nondescript debut by making the most of his second impression. With a three-homer game, Goldschmidt carried the Cardinals to their first win of the season and muscled his way into rare company. He reached base five times in total to complete one of the most prolific offensive performances in recent franchise history.
“It’s a weird game: You strike out three times yesterday and have three homers today,” Goldschmidt said. “Just try to have good at-bats, hit the ball hard and hopefully the results are there.”
Goldschmidt gave the Cardinals an early lead with a first-inning homer, launched a go-ahead blast in the sixth and then punctuated his evening with another two-run shot in the seventh to secure the second three-homer game of his career. With it, he also became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs in one of his first two games with a team.
His chance for a fourth came to an anti-climactic end, though. With first base open and one out in the ninth, the Brewers gladly pointed Goldschmidt toward first for the intentional walk.
Matt Wieters, with a reference to Goldschmidt’s 0-for-4, three-strikeout performance a day earlier, perhaps summed up the night best when he crowned Goldschmidt the “comeback player of the day.” (J Langosch - MLB.com - March 30, 2019)
- July 29, 2019: Goldschmidt was named the National League Player of the Week. Goldschmidt tied a Cardinals record by homering in six straight games. He hit .345/.387/.966 with 13 RBIs in seven games overall.
The 31-year-old first baseman has earned NL Player of the Week honors on three occasions in his career, the previous two for the weeks of June 4-10, 2018, and April 27-May 3, 2015, both while he was playing for the D-backs. .
Sept 13, 2019: Goldschmidt finished the game 2-for-4 with a career-high seven RBIs. He is now hitting .318 (21-for-66) with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 17 games against Milwaukee this season.
“Back and forth, you face a team that many times, there are going to be games where you have success and times where they get you out,” Goldschmidt said. “You keep going back and forth and see what happens.”
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Paul had a .292 career batting average with 243 home runs and 807 RBI in 4,572 at-bats in the Majors.
- Paul has worked hard to become smooth around the first base bag. He has decent range and moves well.
- Goldschmidt can probably play a little left field. But he is just adequate at best out there.
Paul began his pro career as below-average with the glove at first base. But he worked extremely hard to improve. And he still continues to improve at his defense. He wants to be above average on defense and he puts in the time to do that. He has gotten better at picking balls in the dirt and turning the double play.
"I remember Paul talking to the defensive coaches and saying, 'I want to be a Gold Glove first baseman,'" says Alan Zinter, a hitting instructor who worked with Goldschmidt in the minors. "This big, burly-looking lumberjack guy with not the quickest of feet, not the best glove. It's almost like, 'Yeah, right.'"
Goldschmidt took some balls in the outfield during 2013 spring training. Just a little effort to give himself a bit of versatility. That's no surprise to those who know him, because Goldschmidt likes to plan ahead. This was the same guy who had an internship in finance set up for Fall 2011 before he got called up to the big leagues that August and was busy with the NL Division Series in October.
Oh, and he's also taking courses at the University of Phoenix to fulfill his degree.
"I know it's probably a few years away," Goldschmidt said of the possibility of having to play outfield in a pinch. "But it would be nice to do a little bit now, and then when it's 2015 and an emergency comes up, I'm ready. I try to work on it a little and talk to some people. During BP, I just try to get into either left or right and kind of run down balls. I talked to [center fielder Adam] Eaton about the footwork he has and just little things like that."
In 2013, Paul won his first Rawlings Gold Glove. He also won a Fielding Bible Award for being the best defensive first baseman in the NL.
The fact that Paul won a Gold Glove is a testament to his desire to improve. Goldschmidt worked many early mornings during the past few spring trainings with infield instructor Matt Williams.
In 2013, Goldschmidt was the first player in the 10 years since Baseball Info Solutions began charting every single play to record more than 100 "good fielding plays." He had 113. And saved 13 runs with his defense.
In 2015, Paul won his second Gold Glove as best defensive first baseman in the NL.
- In 2017, he won his third Gold Glove.
- Advanced metrics show that Goldschmidt has elite range and is one of the best in baseball at scooping throws in the dirt. (May, 2018)
Paul is a big guy, and has below average speed. But he is a smart runner of the bases. And he is surprisingly agile on the 'paths.
"Goldy is one of those guys who has deceptive speed," said D-backs first-base coach Eric Young, who is primarily responsible for the team's running game. "Goldy is probably one of our better students and has better instincts than a lot of our fast guys."
That a lot more than speed goes into stealing bases is probably not talked about enough. Young said that Goldschmidt, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 244 pounds, steals more than his share of bases. He's limited a bit because he bats cleanup.
"You don't want Goldy to be that speedster, because we need his power," Young said in August 2012.
Goldschmidt spends time studying pitcher's moves, learning just how far off the base he can get when taking his lead, and seems to have a good feel for when a pitcher may throw an offspeed pitch.
- Goldschmidt steals about 15 to 20 bases a year.
- But in 2016, he had 32 steals. Wow!
- April 6, 2017: With his 100th stolen base, Goldschmidt became only the fifth first baseman in Major League history with at least 100 steals and 100 homers. He has 141 homers. (Bloom - mlb.com - 4/6/17)
March 11, 2020: Paul Goldschmidt was held out of the lineup against the Mets due to right elbow soreness, the same discomfort that the Cardinals first baseman dealt with at the beginning of Grapefruit League games. Goldschmidt and manager Mike Shildt insisted that they weren’t overly concerned about what Shildt referred to as “off and on discomfort,” especially after an MRI on Monday didn’t reveal any ligament damage. Goldschmidt said the issue was inflammation and it hasn’t bothered him while hitting, just occasionally while throwing.