Gold Schmidt’s time goes backwards, the secret to being a ‘late MVP’
Last year, Paul Goldschmidt clearly engraved his name, which had been fading. He posted his best personal performance with a .317 batting average, 35 home runs and 115 RBIs in 151 games. When he won the first MVP in his life, he escaped from the king of no arms.
Goldschmidt’s MVP season is dignified considering his 34-year-old age. Goldschmidt posted a 7.8 in the ‘Baseball Reference’ victory contribution. It was Barry Bonds in 2004 that a player over 34 recorded a higher victory contribution than this. That year, the 39-year-old Bonds had a whopping 10.6 contribution to victory. But people don’t acknowledge Bones’ records anymore. Aside from Bonds, the only other player in this category is Hank Aaron in 1969. The contribution to victory in the 35-year-old season was 8.1.
Goldschmidt recorded a formidable figure of 177 in the offensive overall metric adjusted scoring production (wRC+). Again, based on the ‘pure’ players over the age of 34, the batter who was higher than Goldschmidt had to go back to 1971. It was Hank Aaron, 37 (wRC+ 191). In other words, last year Goldschmidt was comparable to Aaron in his mid-30s.
Goldschmidt, known as Ryu Hyun-jin’s nemesis during the Arizona Diamondbacks, transferred to the St. Louis Cardinals through a trade in December 2018. In his first year, he showed off his solid 34 homers and 97 RBIs, but his slugging percentage and OPS were noticeably declining. Even in 2020, which was a shortened season, his slugging percentage and OPS did not recover. It was a natural change for a hitter approaching his mid-30s.
2018 [slugging percentage] 0.533 [OPS] 0.922 – age 30
2019 [slugging percentage] 0.476 [OPS] 0.821 – age 31
2020 [slugging percentage] 0.466 [OPS] 0.883 – age 32
Goldschmidt seemed to be prepared for the downhill road. It seemed best to properly deploy the parachute that would slow him down. But Goldschmidt had a different idea. He still had more to go up, he believed. Goldschmidt, who recovered his slugging power somewhat in 2021, was not satisfied with this and tried one change.
In December 2021, Goldschmidt visited a baseball facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was a baseball research institute called BPL (Baseball Performance Lab). The BPL analyzes batters’ hitting process in detail to find the most suitable bat for them. After measuring the energy consumed in a swing from 1 to 100, a bat suitable for each level is provided. The goal is to help improve performance by increasing bat speed and mass-producing strong batted balls. Gold Schmidt was also reluctant to remodel the batting form on a large scale, so he was in line with the work BPL was pursuing.
Goldschmidt had never changed bats since his debut. He used the same product all along. However, he accepted BPL’s opinion and changed his bat. It is 1 inch longer and 1 ounce heavier than before (length 86.4 cm to 88.9 cm, weight 0.91 kg to 0.94 kg). Instead, the tip of the bat (knob) was specially manufactured in a shape similar to that of an ice hockey puck to facilitate smooth swing. Goldschmidt was satisfied that he could see the effect of the bat while maintaining his original batting form.
Goldschmidt, who obtained a new weapon, succeeded in rejuvenation. He flew around like he was back in his mid-twenties. He also raised his slugging power, the pride of his central hitter, and regained the top spot in the league for the first time in 9 years. His .578 slugging percentage was a personal best that Goldschmidt hadn’t shown even in his prime.
Goldschmidt’s season-high slugging percentage
1. 0.578 (2022)
2. 0.570 (2015)
3. 0.563 (2017)
4. 0.551 (2013)
5. 0.542 (2014)
Goldschmidt did not just emphasize change unconditionally. His attitude toward the game stuck to his original intention. Goldschmidt has been faithful to the basics since he was in the minor leagues. He was born in the 8th round of the 2009 draft, and his history, which was not in the limelight from the beginning, severely whipped himself. He didn’t carelessly play even the smallest play, and he didn’t want to miss a single thing.
Goldschmidt did his best in every play. After he was promoted to the major leagues, he did the same even as he became one of the league’s top players. “When he saw him at 29, he knew that when he was 35, he would be as ready as he is now,” 메이저놀이터said his colleague Matt Carpenter. And that prophecy became a reality.
Base running is a field where you can get a good glimpse of Goldschmidt’s meticulous style. In baseball, there are times when the moment of the moment decides the win or loss. In response, Goldschmidt not only runs hard, but also thinks about how to get to the base even a little faster. Consciously focus on getting your right foot on the base first or shortening the time your foot is in the air.
Goldschmidt doesn’t just give up on a normal grounder. He tries hard to create even a close combat situation before making a safe decision. It is said that in the minor league Triple-A team, where Goldschmidt belonged, he received a warning if he did not play all the way to first base (The Athletic). Chris Owings, who ate a pot of rice, remembered that “Goldschmidt never received a warning letter.” Base running is often neglected by larger power hitters, but Goldschmidt saw base running as something to be done as well.
Goldschmidt, who was rewarded for his efforts last year, will have another helper this year. Turner Ward, who had been an assistant hitting coach at St. Louis, was promoted to hitting coach.
Ward has a special relationship with Goldschmidt. When Goldschmidt was in Double-A, he was the team’s head coach and supported Goldschmidt as Arizona hitting coach from 2013-15. 2014 saw him miss a lot of games due to injury, but 2013 and 2015 were golden years for Goldschmidt. In both seasons, his skills were at their peak, ranking second in the MVP vote. In fact, Goldschmidt presented Ward with the second Silver Slugger trophy he won in 2015.
Goldschmidt became the MVP award belatedly due to his ‘daringness to change what needs to be changed’ and ‘resoluteness to protect what needs to be protected’. But one MVP won’t satisfy him. Will Goldschmidt be able to spend another golden age? It’s interesting to watch his presence going back in time in an increasingly younger league.