As a highschool senior and Astros fan growing up near Houston, Paul Goldschmidt was watching from his center-field seat in Minute Maid Park when Albert Pujols smashed considered one of the signature home runs of his profession. It got here against Astros closer Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series.
On Thursday, Goldschmidt, 35, became the primary St. Louis Cardinal since Pujols in 2009 to win the National League Most Precious Player Award. The years melt together, but special moments stand out.
This was a profession yr for Goldschmidt, who adds his first M.V.P. Award after a summer wherein he was Pujols’s teammate throughout the latter’s homecoming tour de force for the Cardinals, who won the N.L. Central. Goldschmidt received 22 of the 30 first-place votes, while a pair of standout third basemen finished behind him: San Diego’s Manny Machado (.298, 32 homers, 102 R.B.I.) was second with seven first-place votes, and Goldschmidt’s St. Louis teammate Nolan Arenado (.293, 30 homers, 103 R.B.I.) was third with one.
As late as Sept. 1, Goldschmidt was difficult to turn out to be the primary N.L. player to win the league’s triple crown since one other Cardinal, Joe Medwick, whose nickname was Ducky, did it in 1937. A September slump scotched his likelihood, but Goldschmidt wound up ending second within the N.L. in R.B.I. (115), third in batting average (.317) and tied for fifth in home runs (35).
Because it was, he led the league in on-base plus slugging percentage (.981) and, using Baseball Reference’s formula, in offensive wins above alternative (7.5). His O.P.S. was 63 points higher than that of his next-closest competitor, the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman (.918), who was last yr’s N.L. M.V.P.
For Goldschmidt, the voting caps his spectacular season and is a breakthrough profession achievement. He finished second in M.V.P. voting in 2013 to Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and second again in 2015, that point to Washington’s Bryce Harper. He also finished third in 2017 (behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto) and sixth in 2018 and 2021.
“I haven’t checked out the stats. It’s needed to be probably the greatest years, definitely within the regular season, which is great,” Goldschmidt said last month because the Cardinals headed into their N.L. wild-card series against Philadelphia. He added: “Sometimes some years are higher than others, and I don’t know for those who can all the time really put your finger on it while you’re in it. You simply attempt to do the very best you’ll be able to and, , stuff happens.”
While Goldschmidt glittered throughout the season’s first five months, the ultimate weeks tempered what might have been a good more memorable campaign. Following a five-R.B.I., two-homer game against the Cubs on Aug. 25, he led the N.L. in batting average and R.B.I. and was just one homer behind Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber for the league lead. But over his final 27 games, Goldschmidt batted .245 (23 for 94) with two homers and 10 R.B.I.
The cooling down continued into his team’s transient, two-game wild-card sweep by the Phillies. Goldschmidt was 0 for 7 with 4 strikeouts because the Cardinals were eliminated. Three of those strikeouts got here with no less than one runner aboard, including within the eighth inning of the second game after Lars Nootbaar walked and Pujols singled with the Cardinals trailing, 2-0, and trying to avoid wasting their season. (M.V.P. voting is conducted after the regular season but before the postseason begins.)
“I didn’t play good all September and now October, so it really stinks, ,” Goldschmidt told reporters after that final loss. “It’s 100% on me. I didn’t do my job, and it stinks.”
But without him, the Cardinals in all likelihood wouldn’t even have been playing within the postseason. And this month, he’s racking up honors. Goldschmidt won his second N.L. Hank Aaron Award because the league’s best hitter and his fifth Silver Slugger award. That’s essentially the most by any first baseman because the award was instituted in 1980.
After 12 seasons within the majors, the past 4 with St. Louis, Goldschmidt’s 1.047 O.P.S. against left-handed pitching ranks third in Major League Baseball history amongst those with no less than 750 profession plate appearances. He trails only Frank Thomas (1.083) and Manny Ramirez (1.060) in that category. This summer, he moved past considered one of his heroes from his childhood in Houston, the Astros Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell (1.023).