He’s been called America’s First Baseman, but most people just call Paul Goldschmidt, “Goldy.” Consistent and well-rounded, Goldschmidt has been quietly punishing baseballs ever since he made it to the Major Leagues. He’s also one of the most thoughtful and well-liked players in the game.
Where He Came From
Born in Delaware, Goldschmidt grew up in Woodlands, Texas, 40 minutes outside of Houston. Unsurprisingly, he was a fan of the Houston Astros.
Goldschmidt attended The Woodlands High School, playing third base on the baseball team, along with fellow future big leaguer Kyle Drabek. Goldschmidt led them to the 2006 state championship. The team went 10-0 in the playoffs, and lost only one game the entire season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the 49th round of the 2006 draft. Although they knew Goldschmidt was planning on attending college, they spent the draft pick on him at the insistence of scout Chris Smith, whose son played with Goldschmidt at The Woodlands. The way Goldschmidt tells the story, he was taking extra hitting after practice when his dad arrived with the news that he’d been drafted. He acknowledged it, and then asked if his dad would mind throwing him some batting practice.
Goldschmidt attended Texas State University, where he switched to first base and set school records in home runs and RBIs. In both 2008 and 2009, he was named hitter of the year in the Southland Conference. In 2009 he was also named Southland Conference player of the year, as well as a third-team All-American. He was named Texas State male student-athlete of the year in 2009, and Southland Conference scholar-athlete of the year twice.
In his junior year, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Goldschmidt in the eighth round of the 2009 draft. Goldschmidt later earned his degree by taking online classes.
Goldschmidt didn’t spend long in the minors. It was quickly clear that he could dominate in all leagues. In 2009 he hit .334 in rookie ball with the Missoula Osprey, setting a team record with 18 home runs. The next year he was promoted to the Visalia Rawhide, of the high A California League. All he did there was bat .314, hit 35 home runs, make the California League Post-Season All-Star game, and win its Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. In 2011, after hitting .306 for the Mobile BayBears of the AA Southern League and appearing in the MLB Futures game, The Diamondbacks promoted Goldschmidt to the majors.
Big League Career
The Diamondbacks intended for Goldschmidt to share playing time with more established first basemen. When Xavier Nady injured himself, they signed veteran Lyle Overbay to platoon with Goldschmidt. However, Goldschmidt quickly broke out, playing in 145 games in 2011 and hitting .286 with 20 home runs.
After the success of his 2012 season, the Diamondbacks signed Goldschmidt to a five-year contract extension. Goldschmidt rewarded their faith by making the next six All-Star Games in a row. His years in Arizona were a marvel of consistency. He hit well, fielded well, and, unusually for a first baseman, he even ran well. He stole more than 10 in five different seasons in Arizona. Every year, the D-Backs could count on Goldy for an average of around .300, an on-base percentage around .400, a trip to the All-Star Game, and a handful of MVP votes.
To the Cardinals
In 2018, with Goldschmidt approaching free agency and the Diamondbacks in need of a rebuild, they traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for three players and a competitive balance draft pick. The Cardinals immediately signed Goldschmidt to the second five-year contract extension of his career, this one will run through his age-36 season.
Goldschmidt’s jersey number 46 was a constant. He played in 161 regular season games for the Cardinals in 2019, leading them to the playoffs. They defeated the San Diego Padres in the National League Wild Card game, and the Atlanta Braves in the National League Divisional Series, before running into the red hot Washington Nationals, who swept them in the National League Championship Series en route to a World Series title.
When he returned to Chase Field as a Cardinal, the team prepared a video presentation to honor Goldschmidt, and the fans gave a standing ovation and chanted his name when he came to the plate.
Goldschmidt has continued to do Goldschmidt things in St. Louis. He earned MVP votes in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and the Cardinals have made the postseason all three years, losing in the National League Wild Card game in both 2020 and 2021. Although it’s early, they are currently leading the NL Central, and on pace to make the postseason yet again.
By the Numbers
Pick up one of Paul Goldschmidt’s baseball cards, and you will find plenty of black ink on the back. Goldschmidt is a seven-time All-Star and has won four Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Goldschmidt has received National League MVP votes in all of his full Major League seasons except 2014, when he played only 109 games due to injury. He finished second in MVP voting in both 2013 and 2015, third in 2017, and sixth in 2018 and 2021.
Goldschmidt has a .295 lifetime batting average and 300 home runs. Over his 12-year career, has been the National League season leader in many categories, including plate appearances, home runs, RBIs, walks, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases.
If you want to boil it down to one number, this is it: Since his debut in 2011, Goldschmidt has been MLB’s most valuable first baseman by the stat Wins Over Replacement, with 50.5.
As of today, Goldschmidt is leading the National League in hits, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and total bases, and leading all of MLB in OPS.
In 2016 a teammate on the Diamondbacks said that watching Goldschmidt at the plate, he almost felt sorry for the opposing pitchers.
An Unassuming Superstar
Despite the fear that Goldschmidt inspires in the opposition — he has twice led the league in intentional walks — he’s also known for his amiable disposition. According to an extremely scientific 2018 poll of 240 Major Leaguers, Goldschmidt tied for third when the players were asked who was the friendliest person to chat with at first base.
Remember Lyle Overbay, whom the Diamondbacks initially intended to give some of Goldschmidt’s playing time? Despite the possibility of a rivalry, the two became friends and stayed in touch for years afterward, even after Overbay was cut from the team and Goldschmidt’s career took off.
Goldschmidt is also a vocal supporter of Baseball Assistance Team, an organization associated with Major League Baseball that supports former players and other members of the baseball community in need of assistance.
His quiet demeanor has earned comparisons to quieter stars like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter. Known for his humility, Goldschmidt has, on more than one occasion, petitioned the league office to change how a play was scored. He wasn’t trying to secure an extra hit for himself. Rather, he was trying to get himself charged with an error, so that the pitcher wasn’t penalized for a play that he felt he should have made.
Goldschmidt always takes time to sign autographs, and Fanatics has an impressive collection of his memorabilia, sports collectibles, and officially licensed sports apparel.
Goldschmidt has said that if not for baseball, he’d likely be an accountant. He is frequently mentioned as one of baseball’s most underappreciated superstars. His production on the field is well-rounded and as consistent as a metronome. In his eight years with the Diamondbacks, he appeared in the postseason only twice, which might be expected to keep him off of the national radar. Although he’s spent much of his career playing after fans on the East Coast have gone to bed, he’s been voted into the All-Star Game as the National League’s starting first baseman multiple times.
In addition to writing his name into the record books, Goldschmidt is an avid reader who is known to trade book recommendations with reporters. When Goldschmidt joined the Cardinals in 2019, he broke the ice with his new teammates by asking about their favorites. Teammates often describe him as disciplined and focused. Even his officially licensed bobblehead wears a look of steely determination.
Later that year, when they clinched a postseason birth by sweeping their arch-rival Chicago Cubs over four games at Wrigley Field, Goldschmidt excused himself not long into the team’s champagne celebration. He was headed down to the weight room to work out before the team’s flight.
As ever, Goldschmidt, though well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, is content to keep his head down and let his bat do the talking.