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Series Preview: Paul Goldschmidt needs the Giants

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He’s been a league average hitter this year and it’s clear he’s banking on Giants pitching to turn that around.

St Louis Cardinals v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Paul Goldschmidt, the biggest active jerk in baseball, has just been average this season. And since June 1st, he’s hitting .200/.288/.333 with just eight extra base hits (in 118 PA). By every measure, he’s having the worst season of his career.

So, it’s an incredibly good thing for him that he’ll get to feast on the Giants this weekend. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and have never seen the Giants face Paul Goldschmidt, then here’s what I mean:

In 134 games, Goldschmidt has hit .284/.397/.507 with 22 home runs and 79 RBI. Why does it always seem like he crushes the Giants? Because it’s true. His career line is .294/.394/.523 (.916 OPS). Subtract those Giants numbers and you get .295/.393/.525 (.917 OPS) — wait, what? A better career line (by OPS?) How’s that the case?

Paul Goldschmidt is a really good baseball player. He spent eight seasons demolishing the NL West. The Giants were his greatest challenge. I’m not kidding. As bad as it was, the other NL West teams had it worse:

Rockies — 123 G | 562 PA | 145 H | 23 HR | 100 RBI | .309/.414/.559 (.972 OPS)
Dodgers — 134 G | 579 PA | 152 H | 32 HR | 99 RBI | .297/.372/.545 (.916 OPS)
Padres —130 G | 544 PA | 133 H | 22 HR | 86 RBI | .300/.417/.528 (.945 OPS)
Giants — 134 G | 572 PA | 133 H | 22 HR | 79 RBI | .284/.387/.507 (.904 OPS)

So, the Giants didn’t get the worst of it... they got a lot of it... and now Paul Goldschmidt and the Cardinals will need them to take it again.

The Cardinals were 20-10 on May 2nd, and are now 43-42. A look up and down the lineup shows average production across the board, the only standouts being Marcell Ozuna, Paul DeJong, and Jose Martinez. DeJong was named to this year’s All-Star team. Meanwhile, Ozuna grew this beard for the season:

St Louis Cardinals Photo Day Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

And was the star of this defensive attempt earlier in the year:

Unfortunately for St. Louis, he’s on the IL indefinitely after fracturing two fingers following a dive back to the bag. His 120 OPS+ leads the team easily, which means that the Cardinals will need someone to step up to help them generate offense.

Goldschmidt would be the perfect candidate. It’s why they traded for him in the offseason and why they signed him to a $130 million extension through 2024. He, like the entire Cardinals team, really needs to take off / get hot at some point and facing the Giants seems like the perfect recipe for this.

Last year, Goldschmidt went to San Francisco with a line of .208/.325/.396 through his first 57 games. He went 8-for-12 with four doubles in that three-game series and .334/.424/.606 the rest of the way to finish .290/.389/.533. So, yeah, as absurd as it was for me to simply remove Goldschmidt’s Giants numbers from his career totals, it has been more absurd to watch him struggle against the rest of the league and then recharge his powers against the Giants.

What a jerk. Nobody uses San Francisco to get fat and healthy to the detriment of everything around him quite like Paul Goldschmidt. In fact, he’s the only entity on the planet to so viciously and immorally pump and dump and city that it rots it from the inside.

The Cardinals are in a tough four-team fight for the NL Central. They’re in an eight-team fight for the second Wild Card (with, among others the Giants). They could really use a hot streak from the dude they’ve penciled in to be their best hitter. The only drawback is that a hot streak could start just as they head into the All-Star break. The Cardinals really need the Giants to be the Giants of May. Goldschmidt is the totem that could very well summon that evil spirit of awful baseball.

The Giants will try to carry their positive momentum with them from San Diego, but it won’t be enough in the face of Paul Goldschmidt.

Hitter(s) to watch

Besides Goldschmidt, be on the lookout for this rando: the switch-hitting Tommy Edman. Edman has filled in for Matt Carpenter (who’s also on the IL), and has a .917 OPS in just 41 plate appearances. Since he became the replacement starter (June 26), he’s hitting .240 with seven strikeouts and zero walks, but also two home runs (his only extra base hits).

Meanwhile, Barry Bonds’ good friend Dexter Fowler has really stepped up in Ozuna’s absence. He has an .805 OPS since June 15 (52 PA) along with three home runs.

Pitcher to watch

The state of the Cardinals’ pitching is such that Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija would be significant improvements to their rotation. By ERA+, Friday night starter Dakota Hudson’s 125 is the best of that bunch, but a cursory glance at his underlying stats don’t excite: a 4.99 FIP (against a 3.40 ERA) and a 23.5% home run to fly ball rate (2nd-worst in MLB) suggest that when he doesn’t keep the ball down (MLB-best 61.5% groundball rate) he gets hammered.

Now, the Giants still have a good number of groundball hitters, but they’ve also got players who’ve retooled their swings to hit the ball in the air more. If he can keep the ball down, he’ll dominate as he did from May 2-June 22nd (2.48 ERA, 7-3 record). If not, the Giants will score double digit runs off of him.

Prediction

The Giants will not score double digits in a single game this weekend.