By: Chris Larson
Friday night was one of amazement for the St. Louis Cardinals and certainly helped to put a new meaning behind their Twitter hashtag, #TimeToFly, a hashtag created by the MLB to help create a unique brand for the Cardinals fanbase to follow. Essentially, the creation of a unique hashtag for all 30 teams allows those fanbases to interact with fans of the same team and have discussions throughout the year on some of the greatest moments that take place, such as the one, last night.
Heading into this season, many fans and analysts around the game alike, expected the St. Louis Cardinals to be poised to do some big things this year and some even went as far to say that the Cardinals would end up taking home the NL Central crown. That's exactly what we predicted on this blog and a significant reason why was not only because of the Cardinals young starting rotation that possesses plenty of potential, along with a powerful back end of the bullpen, but due to the Cardinals addition of Paul Goldschmidt this offseason.
If you recall, the St. Louis Cardinals have struggled in the middle of their lineup for several years now. In fact, you could make the argument that they haven't had a true power hitter within their lineup since the days of Albert Pujols and now that Paul Goldschmidt, has arrived in the Gateway to the West, that era of power hitting has officially returned and the Cardinals once again have that presence in the middle of their lineup, that the opposing team fears.
Ever since making his debut in 2011, with the Arizona Diamondbacks - the organization that originally drafted and developed him, Paul Goldschmidt has been one of the most elite hitters in the game. That's why he ranked as the best or second best first baseman for a significant amount of analysts and fans, heading into this season, and why he has developed the reputation of being such a great hitter at the plate who possesses a tremendous amount of discipline. Here's some numbers to help illustrate those points.
Among first baseman, dating back to the 2015 regular season, Paul Goldschmidt ranks second in home runs (129), third in RBI (413), first in stolen bases (78), and has an overall walk percentage of (15.0%), tying him for second place in that category, with Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians. Furthermore, over that period, Goldschmidt ranks second in on-base percentage (.410), first in slugging percentage (.542), and first in WAR (23.0), over the course of 2,765 plate appearances.
Turning the conversation back to last night's game, it helped to illustrate why Goldschmidt ranks so high in almost every single offensive category and proved that he is going to cause some serious trouble amid an ultra-competitive National League Central division.
During last night's game against the division rival, Milwaukee Brewers, Paul Goldschmidt jacked three home runs. Furthermore, during his third at-bat of the night, Goldschmidt had already seen 23 pitches, which only helps to illustrate the amount of plate discipline, that he exhibits. Unfortunately, the Brewers ended up learning their lesson and didn't allow Goldschmidt to hit by the time he reached his fifth at bat, preventing him from potentially getting a fourth home run.
Here's a look at the first five batted balls of the game for Paul Goldschmidt, from last night, courtesy of Daren Willman, Director of Research and Development for the MLB, on Twitter:
Regardless, it was still a milestone night and something that will remain in the minds of St. Louis Cardinals fans this season and beyond. According to Richard Justice of MLB.com, Paul Goldschmidt now has 11 home runs, over the span of 25 games, at Miller Park and became the 11th Cardinal player to have a three-home run game, dating back to 1908. The last Cardinal to accomplish that feat was, Matt Carpenter, last July during the game at Wrigley Field. With the greatness of Paul Goldschmidt, he might end up doing that again during one of the remaining 160 games!
If history is any indication, this is only the beginning of the greatness for Paul Goldschmidt in a Cardinals uniform and is a signal that St. Louis made an excellent decision, when they agreed to a five-year, $130 million dollar extension with him, a little over a week ago. When teams are looking at which players to extend, they try to project how much value they are going to get back on their investment and how much they are going to have to invest in the first place, but this deal blows everything about value out of the water. Not only did the Cardinals get an excellent power hitter at a superb price, Paul Goldschmidt probably left some money on the table and chose loyalty instead, another reason why the St. Louis Cardinals decided to trade for him in the first place.
Not only is Paul Goldschmidt one of the best players in the game of baseball right now, he has plenty of attributes off the field that make him just as impactful. During his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dback players continually complimented the front office about Goldschmidt's ability to lead, his work ethic that many fans didn't see because it took place before and after games, and his superb ability to be a fantastic teammate during the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you look at the St. Louis Cardinals franchise and those attributes that Paul Goldschmidt brings to the clubhouse, there really is no better match. Goldschmidt is a perfect face of the franchise guy and someone that can now take the keys to the franchise moving forward and help lead St. Louis to the perfect land.
For now, St. Louis Cardinals fans and fans of baseball everywhere, can continue to watch in amazement, as Paul Goldschmidt continues to make an impact on the Cardinals lineup everyday and brings a new meaning to the hashtag, #TimeToFly. Before the trade for Paul Goldschmidt, it was time for the St. Louis Cardinals to fly, after missing out on the playoffs the past three years, but now with Paul Goldschmidt in tow, the chances of it being time to fly have become exponentially better and should help the Cardinals remain a viable National League Central contender all season long.