A seven-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger and a four-time Gold Glove winner, Paul Goldschmidt lacked one particular accomplishment that frequently comes to the best players of their generation: an MVP award.
Consider the box checked after a panel of BBWAA voters named Goldschmidt the National League MVP on Thursday night.
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Goldschmidt, who hit .317/.404/.578 with 35 home runs, 41 doubles, and 79 walks for the St. Louis Cardinals, finally got there at age 35. And in an adorable moment on the MLB Network broadcast, his kids presented him with a pretend loving cup and chain for winning the award, which also comes with an adult trophy that he’ll receive next spring.
This should hold him over:
Goldschmidt had 22 first-place votes to win comfortably over San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado, who had seven first-place votes. Goldschmidt's teammate, Nolan Arenado, finished third, while Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman came in fourth. Those individuals, along with Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, were named on every ballot.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge got 28 first-place votes to win American League MVP. Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani came in second with two first-place votes.
Goldschmidt chased the Triple Crown until a September slump brought him back to the pack (to a point), and he continued to struggle once the playoffs came. Team success seems to drive him, and the Cardinals continue to knock at the door of the World Series, though they haven’t gotten past the wild-card round since 2019. However, in the big picture of Goldschmidt’s career, his individual excellence in 2022 will be important when he is judged on the totality of his time in MLB.
“It isn’t just about me,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s about the teammates and coaches who have helped me get this far. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of different players. I hope they know how much of an effect they had on my career. I feel like God has blessed me to surround me with great people.”
Goldschmidt also took note of the great enjoyment he had watching Cardinals legend Albert Pujols in his final season. With a remarkable final kick at age 42, Pujols surpassed 700 career home runs and electrified Busch Stadium as he did earlier in his career.
Pujols’ farewell flourish inspires Goldschmidt to cherish his own career as it approaches the final leg. MLB Network invited Pujols to announce that Goldschmidt had won MVP.
"This was my best year and the most fun I've had, playing with Nolan and Albert and so many guys we had,” Goldschmidt said. “It was just incredible."
Goldschmidt had come close to winning the NL MVP three times before with the Arizona Diamondbacks, including second-place finishes in 2013 and 2015. He's received MVP votes of some kind nine times in parts of 11 seasons.
Since he became a full-time player in 2012, Goldschmidt is the seventh-best hitter in MLB with a 145 wRC+. In that span, only three players have more home runs, and only Mike Trout has more WAR or WPA (via FanGraphs). On the defensive side, only Anthony Rizzo has more Total Runs Saved (via Fielding Bible) among first basemen.
Goldschmidt has a good chance to make the Hall of Fame, although he will have to finish his career strong. He averages 5.9 WAR (via Baseball-Reference) for every 162 games. If he can average about half that over the next five seasons, Goldschmidt would be in Frank Thomas and Jim Thome territory on the all-time list of great first basemen.
He might not need a Pujols-like ending to his career to reach Cooperstown, but the memory of how his teammate finished his own career could be a mental example that Goldschmidt can use to achieve a little extra before he retires.