Fantasy Baseball: Paul Goldschmidt Is an Incredibly Unique Asset
When comparing his 2016 campaign to the year before, it's easy to say Paul Goldschmidt didn't put together the kind of performance some people were expecting.
It sounds a little ridiculous saying that about a player fresh off producing a 134 wRC+ and 4.8 fWAR, but since those are noticeable decreases to what was a career year in 2015 (163 wRC+ and 7.3 fWAR), there's at least some merit to the statement (even though it's still ridiculous).
For fantasy baseball owners, picking the right studs during the early rounds is very important with regard to eventual success or failure throughout the upcoming season. While paying attention to a particular player's position doesn't seem to be a huge deal early on, it should be.
How deep is that position? Are players at the top end of drafts being overvalued? Those are two questions that need to be asked depending on draft position. It's also why Goldschmidt is such a unique commodity.
Despite a current National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) average draft position (ADP) of 5.90, I spent my third overall pick on him during numberFire's fantasy baseball mock draft earlier this week because he offers production that hasn't been duplicated by any other first baseman in recent memory.
A 5-Category Threat
While not every player can truly be a threat in every offensive category, Goldy has been just that since making his big league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since he only played in 48 games and accumulated 177 plate appearances as a rookie in 2011, we'll throw that season out when looking at his production across the traditional five categories that are important for fantasy production.
That's about as consistent as it gets. Goldschmidt has appeared in the All-Star game four consecutive years, and by the looks of his overall numbers, he's deserved it every single time.
While his 2016 performance was a step back in a few categories, he still found himself in some pretty elite company. Goldschmidt joined Jose Altuve and Mike Trout as being one of three players with at least 24 homers, 100 runs scored, 95 RBI's and 30 stolen bases in 2016.
In fact, those numbers have only been collectively reached by a player in a single season eight times since 2010. The other players in this group include Trout (also in 2013), Ryan Braun (2011 and 2012), Matt Kemp (2011) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2011).
Just being in this group is enough of a distinction, but there's something else that separates Goldschmidt from the rest.
It's Rare Because of His Position
Although this kind of across-the-board production isn't exactly a regular occurrence, it's also not completely unheard of. What is completely unheard of is seeing a first baseman do it.
If we expand the above sample all the way back to 2002, there have been 18 total instances of at least 24 homers, 100 runs scored, 95 RBI's and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Goldschmidt is still the only first baseman amongst this group.
Wil Myers is on the verge of joining the club (28 homers, 94 RBI's, 99 runs scored and 28 stolen bases in 2016), but he doesn't have the track record of consistency that Goldschmidt does.
Once again, looking back since 2002, a first baseman has hit 20 homers while stealing 20 bases just five times. Of that group, Goldschmidt is the only player to post a batting average above .273, along with being the only one to rack up at least one year of 100-plus runs and 100-plus RBI's.
2017 Could Be an Even Bigger Year
Based off his recent production, there's more than a decent chance the 29-year-old could gain entry into the 30-30 club this season (30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a single season). If he does, he'd only be the second primary first baseman to do it in MLB history, joining Jeff Bagwell, who did it twice (1997 and 1999).
Sure, the D-Backs don't have Jean Segura at the top of their order anymore after shipping him to the Seattle Mariners, but Arizona is slated to have A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb in front of Goldy, who will be in the third spot in the lineup, according to Roster Resource. That'll provide him with plenty of opportunities to continue racking up big numbers in a solid offense full and a home park that's conducive to runs being scored.
Value is all relative, and it's oozing everywhere at the start of fantasy baseball drafts. However, getting a leg up on the competition includes grabbing unique players at certain positions. There are number of solid early-round commodities at first base -- some have more power upside than Goldschmidt, but none bring the total package of average, power, speed and run production quite like he does.
NFBC currently has him ranked as the top first baseman, and it's easy see why.