HUMMEL ON EXPECTATIONS AT FIRST BASE:
If you’ve kept track of Paul Goldschmidt for the past five years, you will see that he has played between 155 and 161 games every year and, in fact, he has done that in six of the past seven seasons. That is the ultimate in dependability. In a season of 60 games, he could play them all with the luxury of giving him a quasi day off as a designated hitter.
Goldschmidt also has hit 30 or more homers in four of those five seasons, including 34 in his first year with the Cardinals. The outlier last season was his batting average. After successive seasons with Arizona of .286, ,.302, .300, .321, .297, .297 and .290, he dipped to .260 in 2019, with 166 strikeouts and an OPS under .900 for the first time since 2012. He drew only 88 walks. Goldschmidt, 32, may be on the back side of his career, but he and the Cardinals expect an uptick. It’s probable that Goldschmidt will hit third after starting the 2019 season as the No. 2 hitter, but with few RBI chances because the leadoff hitters weren’t getting on. Thus, he was “limited” to 97 RBIs when 100 or more were expected.
Yet, while Goldschmidt is a key to the offense, as much or more he was the key to a defense that went from making the most errors in baseball to the fewest last season. Not only was Goldschmidt tracking down off-line throws, but he was covering ground that a Cardinals first baseman hadn’t since Albert Pujols.
Settled in as a Cardinal in Year Two, Goldschmidt should be a more relaxed player and a more productive one, with 10 to 12 homers and 40 to 45 RBIs as conservative estimates. And maybe he’ll even run more this year. Having stolen 124 bases in his career before coming to the Cardinals, Goldschmidt tried to steal just four times last year, making it three times.