Is Paul Goldschmidt the Best Player in the National League?
When we think of the best and most exciting players in the National League, Bryce Harper is normally the first name that comes to mind. There's a good reason for that, of course -- Harper is one of the game's youngest and most dynamic stars, a player who makes headlines with his style and production.
We generally regard him as the best player in the NL, but the numbers say that distinction belongs to someone else.
Arizona Diamondbacks first basemen Paul Goldschmidt is having yet another fantastic season, and heading into Monday's action, owns the highest fWAR of anyone in the National League, and by a significant margin.
With his 16 dingers tied for 11th most in the NL, Goldschmidt is clearly one of the league's better power hitters. However, of the 19 National Leaguers with at least 15 homers, Goldy is the only one with more than 5 stolen bases (he has 13). So, this realistically makes him an ideal candidate to become baseball's first 30-30 player (30 home runs and 30 steals in the same season) since Ryan Braun and Mike Trout in 2012.
But this isn't a brand-new development. In fact, Goldschmidt has the best numbers of anyone in the National League since 2013. His fWAR of 26.2 over the last five years is the most, and it isn't really close. Posey comes in a distant second (22.7), with Andrew McCutchen (22.6), Votto (22.3) and Harper (21.3) rounding out the top five.
His 447 runs scored and 456 RBI are the most in the National League during that stretch, and his 128 home runs are third-most in the NL since 2013. With a wOBA and wRC+ that is second highest in the league, it's fair to say Goldy is the NL's best offensive player over the last five years.
The stolen bases is what truly makes him unique. His 90 steals since the start of 2013 are 7th most in the National League, and easily the most among first basemen, with Wil Myers' 42 thefts not even being in the same ballpark as Goldschmidt.
So, why doesn't Goldschmidt get more love?
One of the biggest reasons is that he doesn't play a position that requires him to do much defensively. He plays for a team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, that plays on the west coast and is routinely out of the playoffs. He also missed out on his best chance to win an MVP award back in 2014, when he had a 4.3 fWAR after 109 games, but missed the rest of the season after being hit by a pitch.
That could all change this year, though. Arizona is steaming toward the playoffs, and at 44-26, they're tied for second in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have a healthy lead for the NL Wild Card, and our metrics back that up -- they currently have a 91.2% chance of making the postseason, with a 17.4% chance of overtaking the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies for the division.
Getting some eyeballs on him in October will go a long way in getting the rest of the baseball world to take notice of how terrific Paul Goldschmidt has been, both this year, and over the last five seasons.