We all know that Paul Goldschmidt is one of the most promising young power hitter in the games. In my recent look at the top first basemen 25-years old or younger (click here for the article) he came in at number four. However, does that mean that he’s bullet proof? Does it mean that he is a lock to excel on Opening Day and continue through the entire season? That thought leads us to today’s Wild Prediction (remember, these predictions are not necessarily things I believe, but things that I think have no more than a 20% chance of happening):
Wild Prediction: Paul Goldschmidt will spend at least 20 days at Triple-A prior to the All-Star Break
Goldschmidt was tremendous at Double-A last season (.306, 30 HR, 94 RBI over 366 AB). During his 1,178 AB minor league career he hit .317 with 83 HR and 264 RBI. However, he is still just 24-years old and never spent a day at Triple-A. With that in mind, if he struggles would it really be a huge shock to see the Diamondbacks send him down?
I wouldn’t think he was going to struggle in the power department. He showed in 2011 that he can hit Major League pitching with 8 HR over 156 AB (putting him on pace for around 30 HR in a full 600 AB season). The problem is his strikeout rate, which could force the Diamondbacks hand. Look at his numbers over his career:
- Rookie Ball (287 AB) – 22.4%
- Single-A (525 AB) – 26.9%
- Double-A (366 AB) – 20.1%
- Major Leagues (156 AB) – 29.9%
We all want to be able to look at the Double-A numbers and assume that he’s going to improve. We can say that 156 AB is a small sample size, so we shouldn’t put much stock in it. Maybe both of those are true, but that number from Single-A is staring us in the face. If he struggled to make contact there in 2010 how can we simply assume that he can do so on a regular basis in the Major Leagues?
If he cannot make contact he is not going to hit for a good average (unless he gets significantly lucky). If, in the middle of May, he is hitting .230 with fewer than 8 HR would it really be unthinkable that the Diamondbacks demote him? They clearly are a team that wants to win now and, if they feel Goldschmidt is preventing them from doing so, I would certainly consider it realistic. They would have no reason to leave him sitting on the Major League bench when he can get regular AB and experience at Triple-A.
Chance of Happening – 15%
With all that said, Goldschmidt is a player that I would love to own as my corner infielder. He has as much power as anyone and could potentially hit over 30 HR on the season. However, the average is a legitimate concern and is the one aspect of his game that we need to monitor in the early going. The risk (he hit .250 last season) makes him impossible to depend on as a starting option.
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Make sure to check out our 2012 rankings: