Paul Goldschmidt Is Giving Bryce Harper a Run For His Money
This is always a fun game.
Let's play the anonymous slash line game. You know, the one where I throw a series of statistics out at you, such as slash line, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, etc., but I don't include the player's name. It's always a hoot. Anyway, here goes.
As you look at the two sets of data there, you see two pretty evenly matched players. Player B has the higher batting average, on-base percentage, and stolen base total, while Player A leads slightly in the other categories.
Player A is the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, probably the leading candidate for NL MVP so far.
Player B is the Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, who just may be the least talked about superstar in Major League Baseball.
The similarities in their offensive numbers are crazy. Harper has the better walk rate (20.3% to 19.1%), but it's close. Their strikeout rates (Goldschmidt at 20.3%, Harper at 20.7%) are virtually even.
And defensively they're about equal too, although both play very different positions. Goldschmidt is among the best first basemen in the NL, with five Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) so far this year, although his Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of -2.8 means he's not covering as much ground as other first basemen. Harper, meanwhile, has six DRS as the Nats' right fielder, with a positive UZR of 1.2, part of which gives him a larger edge in fWAR.
But needless to say, both guys are above average defenders at their positions.
At the moment, Harper would seem to have the edge in the still way-too-early-to-call MVP race. But what this shows is, for all the hype Harper has gotten for his 2015 season, all of it deserved, Goldschmidt has done just about as well and gotten almost no notice. Why?
Well, for starters, fewer people see Goldschmidt play. He's a west coast player, in Arizona, where most of his games start after 9:00 p.m. on the east coast. Second, the Diamondbacks are bad and don't get much national TV exposure. I can't remember the last time I sat down in my recliner, opened up a bee... uh... soda, kicked up my feet and watched Paul Goldschmidt on ESPN or the MLB Network.
And it's a shame, too, because as Harper went nuts in the month of May, Goldschmidt wasn't half bad himself.
In a Harper-free world, those numbers would have made Goldy a lock for Player of the Month for May.
Perhaps as a reward, the online voters have pushed Goldschmidt ahead of the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez among NL first basemen in the latest All-Star voting results released Tuesday. I mean, hey, he's even got the support of the U.S. government for crying out loud.
And right now, these are Goldschmidt's projected totals over 162 games: .340/.466/.650, 45 HRs, 133 RBI, and 26 stolen bases. Egads, kids.
As long as Harper continues to do what he's been doing, he's the MVP. But Goldschmidt is hot on his heels, and if Harper falters, don't be surprised if the little-talked-about Goldschmidt is holding some hardware when all is said and done.