A few weeks ago, I took a look at 10 current active baseball players who I believe have the most to lose from a canceled 2020 season in terms of their Hall of Fame candidacies. Since we're still waiting around for baseball to happen, I wanted to take a closer look at some of these guys. Today it's time to investigate Paul Goldschmidt's Hall case.
Goldschmidt, the Cardinals first baseman, is right in the middle of an incredibly productive career. Through his age-31 season, he's hitting .292/.391/.524, good for a 141 OPS+. He's topped 30 home runs five times, 100 RBI three times and 100 runs four times. He hasn't won an MVP, but he's a six-time All-Star with three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers at arguably the toughest position to win one. He'a also finished second in MVP voting twice and third once during his time with the Diamondbacks. There's little question Goldschmidt has been one of the elite players in baseball for nearly a decade. He's even stolen 15 or more bases five times and once swiped 32.
On a peak basis, Goldschmidt might have completed his Hall of Fame case. His closest statistical match through ages 28, 29 and 30 was Jeff Bagwell.
However (there's always one of those, isn't there?), Goldschmidt hasn't done his compiling yet and his peak case isn't good enough to get him there alone. Let's keep in mind Goldschmidt is heading to his age-32 season and showed signs of starting to hit his decline in 2020. He dropped 30 points in batting average, 43 in OBP and 57 in slugging. The 113 OPS+ was the worst of his career and the first time it was below 133 since his first full season (2012). His 2.4 WAR was a drop from 6.2 and the lowest of his career in a full season. Simply put: We might not see Goldschmidt the MVP candidate again.
All this means Goldschmidt still needs to up strong numbers in the following categories moving forward.
Goldy has 806. The lowest total for a post-integration Hall of Famer is 1,131 from Orlando Cepeda. SportsLine has Goldschmidt with 42 runs in 74 games this season. That gets him to 880 heading to his age-33 season.
Anyone with a grasp of baseball history knows the 1,337 from Goldschmidt are light. The lowest total for a post-integration Hall of Famer is 2,086 from Harmon Killebrew (who hit 573 homers, by the way). Goldy probably has to get to 2,000 for a lot of voters. He had 155 hits last year and SportsLine projects him for 70 this season. That would put him at 1,407 hits entering his age-33 season. Would he have nearly 600 more still in him? I'm not so sure.
Cepeda's 379 are the low mark here among post-integration Hall of Famers. Goldschmidt sits at 243. That was an area where he was still fine last season, clubbing 34. SportsLine projects him for 15 this season. Missing out on roughly 15 homers in a shortened season might make a difference. What if he ends up around 385 and could've gotten to 400?
Cepeda is the low Hall of Famer (post-integration) again at 1,365. Goldschmidt has just 807. SportsLine projects him for 43 this season, losing out on, say, 45 or so due to the shortened season. Will that matter? I'd guess probably not, but it very well might. He's shaping up to be a borderline candidate. Beefing up these counting stats is where he could make inroads.
Goldschmidt is at 43.1 career WAR, ranking him 43rd among first basemen, behind the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado and Mark Grace. The average Hall of Fame WAR for first basemen is 66.9. In JAWS, Goldschmidt is 34th -- he's higher due to the peak component, a further illustration that his task is more compiling at this point -- in the ballpark of Cepeda, Fred McGriff, Tony Perez and David Ortiz, but well below the average Hall of Famer. This just further hammers home the point that missing even a half season could be a huge detriment in Goldschmidt building a strong Hall case down the road.
If I had to guess, I'd say Goldschmidt ends up not making the Hall of Fame. Will this season be part of the reason why? I'd say the chances of that are higher than zero percent. He needs a lot more counting stats and missing a half season at age 32 harms that task.