by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Paul Goldschmidt entered the year considered a Top 5 player, but we are now about a month and a half into the season and things look dramatically different. Entering play on Monday he was hitting .210 with 4 HR and 12 RBI over 171 PA (before going 1-4 with 1 R), with the concerns beginning to grow significantly. Could the humidor, which was viewed as a positive for the pitching staff, be having this much of a negative effect on one of the premier sluggers in the game?
His Home/Road split would seem to support that notion:
- Home – .133, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 9 R
- Road – .294, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 16 R
Of course he’s also hitting the ball extremely hard at home (27.9% line drive rate) and suffering from terrible luck (.233 BABIP). Does anyone really believe those numbers? Historically it’s not like his production has simply been buoyed by his home ballpark, with the numbers nearly split evenly:
- Home – .292, 87 HR, 306 RBI (491 games)
- Road – .298, 93 HR, 333 RBI (481 games)
The bigger issue is the sudden increase in strikeouts, as he owns an 11.5% SwStr% (his worst mark since an 11.9% in ’11, his 48 game debut) and 31.0% strikeout rate (22.4% for his career). Maybe he’s pressing, but he’s seen an increase in his Whiff% across the board. The most concerning is on “Hard” pitches, going from 9.46% in ’17 to 11.34% this season. While it’s not an abysmal mark, has his bat slowed a little bit?
He’s hitting .261 against fourseam fastball this season, but he owned a .342 mark in ’17 (.318 over the course of his career). Obviously he’s struggled against all types of pitches (.177 on changeups, .182 on sliders, .071 on curveballs), but it all works off the fastball. If he’s not hitting those he’s going to be more susceptible to other pitches.
Does that mean that we’re ready to write him off and declare him a bust? Should fantasy owners simply sell and move on? The increased strikeout rate is a concern, as is the sudden drop in power production. That said his luck should improve dramatically at home, and when that happens the numbers should start trending upwards.
At 30-years old it’s also hard to think that he’s completely lost it, and considering the numbers he’s posted on the road over the course of his career it’s hard to lose faith. It’s a cold streak, and a bad one, but there’s far too much of a track record. Maybe he has lost a little something, but he’s simply not this bad. Look for things to turn, and likely quickly, and you don’t want to sell low now and miss out on the reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, ESPN
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