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No one is giving Paul Goldschmidt anything to hit

Jul 2, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

Baltimore Orioles v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

Amid the Diamondbacks’ horrible season first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is having another excellent year, batting .300 with 15 homers and a league-leading 28 doubles for a .921 OPS that nearly matches last year’s career-high of .952.

However, because the rest of the Diamondbacks’ lineup is so bad and their cleanup hitters in particular (mostly Miguel Montero and Martin Prado) have managed a measly .394 slugging percentage Goldschmidt is being pitched around more and more often.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic dug into the numbers after manager Kirk Gibson was pretty vocal suggesting Goldschmidt is seeing fewer crush-able pitches and sure enough pitchers have tossed him something in the strike zone just 32 percent of the time in the past two weeks, compared to 40 percent of the time previously.

Whenever a slugger gets pitched around much is made of the batter directly behind him in the lineup offering “protection.” And that can be true, but it’s generally less of a factor than conventional wisdom would suggest and perhaps the easiest way to ensure Goldschmidt will get more pitches to hit is to get more runners on base for his plate appearances. And so far this season Diamondbacks leadoff and No. 2 hitters have combined for a .314 on-base percentage.

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  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Poor DBacks. Basically what the article is saying is this: it’s not just that the hitters behind Goldy suck, it’s that the hitters in front of him also suck. Considering he hits third, that means all of the “best” hitters on the DBacks suck.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      please…

      Arizona has the 11th HIGHEST team batting average right now in the bigs…

      higher than the A’s even…

      higher than the St. Louis Cards even…

      But, Zona is only 19th in MLB in runs scored…

      Then again, Arizona is 10th in all of MLB in total bases…

      • 18thstreet - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Batting average is not a complete way to measure how well a batter does his job. Walks don’t count, and batting average treats a single and a double as being equal (they are one hit). So you can see why a good batting average doesn’t mean that a team will score a lot of runs. That’s why many people prefer to look at on base percentage (which gives batters credit for walks and reaching base when they are hit by pitches) and slugging percentage (which gives batters more credit for extra base hits).

        I promise, you can give up on batting average without moving to your mother’s basement like those baseball-hating bloggers. But you really should give up on batting average. OBP is not that complex.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        YOU are DOING it AGAIN.

      • jtorrey13 - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        To give a complete picture, Diamondbacks are 24th in OBA, with a .307 OBA. They’re running neck and neck with the Giants (.307) and behind the Astros (.310) and ranking ahead of the Reds (.306), the Barves (.305), the Phillies (.304), Mariners (.303), Cubs (.292) and Padres (.273).

        Before any response, yes, they are ahead of some good teams (like the A’s and Cards mentioned above regarding batting average) and so we don’t confuse “good teams” with “good on-base teams,” here are those same teams and their ranks in team ERA:

        Astros – 25th – 4.23
        Giants – 8th – 3.41
        Diamondbacks – 27th – 4.35
        Reds – 10th – 3.54
        Barves – 5th – 3.27
        Phillies – 17th – 3.84
        Mariners – 3rd – 3.22
        Cubs – 9th – 3.48
        Padres – 6th – 3.28

        And for fun
        Athletics – 2nd – 3.19
        Cardinals – 7th – 3.33

        The lesson, some teams are good not because of hitting, but because of pitching. Some teams, like the Padres and Cubs, can’t make up for their awful hitting with good pitching. Some teams, the Diamondbacks, are really bad at both – and that’s why they have the most losses in the major leagues, even if they best some teams in categories. But, if it makes you feel better, the Diamondbacks are 8th in xFIP meaning they have just given up more home runs than should be expected. So the snakes have got that going for them. Which is good.

        (All stats from Fangraphs.)

  2. moogro - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    How could this article possibly happen without also discussing his walks?

  3. Francisco (FC) - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    However, because the rest of the Diamondbacks’ lineup is so bad and their cleanup hitters in particular (mostly Miguel Montero and Martin Prado) have managed a measly .394 slugging percentage Goldschmidt is being pitched around more and more often.

    Does this mean lineup protection is real, or is it still a myth?

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      So far quick Google search seems to indicate that nope, it’s still a myth in general.

  4. andreweac - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Arizona doesn’t lack good hitters. They lack hitters with grit. Dbacks need to quadruple down in grit this upcoming offseason.

    • tmc602014 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Grit is the new black.

  5. Francisco (FC) - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Whenever a slugger gets pitched around much is made of the batter directly behind him in the lineup offering “projection.”

    I think you mean protection, and I think it’s the other way around. If the hitter behind the slugger is good, then you don’t want to put the slugger on base because the next guy may crush you. If the hitter behind the slugger is a weakling, you don’t want to give the slugger a chance to crush you since you would rather face the weakling; hence he’s pitched around.

    That said, I’m interested in knowing just how real lineup protection really is or if; as suggested in the same article, what sluggers need is “runner protection”.

  6. pbastille - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    “projection”, “protection”…

  7. mlbfan8898 - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Goldy is the perfect example of how a ball player should play.

  8. bolweevils2 - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Martin Prado has been a nice player during his career. But I think anyone would agree that he is miscast as a cleanup hitter. Heck, if you look at that lineup who strikes you as the classic cleanup guy? Goldschmidt, that’s who. He’s the power guy. Now, if you had another power guy, you could reasonably argue that Goldschmidt is also their best all-around hitter, so he could be third. But they don’t have another good cleanup option.

    If Pollock is for real with his .316 average and .920 OPS, he could be a viable #3 hitter when he returns. But even that won’t help get Goldy many more strikes. Short of surrounding him with Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, would you pitch to Goldschmidt or take your chances with the next guy?

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 2, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      I suppose when Trumbo comes back this should be an easy problem to fix, assuming there is anyone left on the DBacks roster by then.

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