For Diamondbacks’ first baseball Paul Goldschmidt, just being in the conversation for the National League Most Valuable Player seems more than a reasonable reward. Though Goldschmid finished second in the league’s MVP balloting Thursday night, his value to the Diamondbacks continues to rise and the 28-year-old is now firmly established as one of the top players in the game.
Because the Diamondbacks (79-83) finished 13 games behind NL West Division-winners Dodgers, were never serious contenders to challenge the Dodgers and Giants for the NL West Division crown and Goldschmidt plays for what is considered a small market team, any national consideration would be light. Here’s an Arizona player who is likely to be only name known to the casual baseball fan outside of the Phoenix market. Yet, knowledgeable fans began to raise a consciousness.
In both 2014 and 2015, Goldschmidt was voted, by fans, to start at first base for the National League and was one of three players in the league under consideration for the 2015 MVP award. Though Bryce Harper of the Nationals captured the MVP honors with a unanimous vote (a perfect 420 votes), Goldschmidt (234) finished second and the Reds’ Joey Votto (175) placed third.
While the traditional, national consideration tends to focus on numbers, Goldschmidt’s demeanor on the field and in the clubhouse is clearly recognized. During the past season, Goldschmidt took a greater leadership role behind closed doors and drew immediate praise.
“(Goldschmidt) means everything to this team,” said manager Chip Hale. “We would not have been in third place or in a position to push for the division lead without him. I’m happy he’s recognized.”
Humble and unassuming nearly to a fault, Goldschmidt is first to credit a teammate for getting on base or making an important play. Though he hit a career-high .321 batting average and knocked in 110 runs, he continues to downplay any personal achievement.
Despite missing out on the MVP award, Goldschmidt still won the 2015 Silver Slugger Award for the highest batting in his positon and the National League Gold Glove winner at first base. Goldschmidt also finished second to the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen in the NL MVP award two years ago.
“I’m extremely humbled to be considered for the award, especially in the company of two great players like Bryce and Joey,” said Goldschmidt in a statement released by the Diamondbacks. “I’d also like to congratulate Bryce on winning the award after such an outstanding season. It’s flattering to be recognized, not as much for me but for all the people who are part of this team, my teammates, coaches, trainers, clubhouse staff, scouts and player development, our fans and so many more. I’d also like to thank Major League Baseball, the Baseball Writers Association and other media members who spend their time working with us all year long.”
Since 1998, Goldschmidt is one of five players to finish in the top two of the NL MVP balloting twice over a three year span. In his group, he joins the Brewers’ Ryan Braun (2011-12), the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (2002-03, ‘05-06, ‘08-10), the Phillies’ Ryan Howard (2006, ’08) and Barry Bonds (2000-04) of the Giants.
In balloting for the American League MVP, the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson captured the award. Donaldson’s 385 votes beat out the Angeles’ Mike Trout (304) and the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain (325).
NOT FAR AWAY
On Thursday, the Diamondbacks announced their spring training schedule for the 2016 season. They will play 36 games at their Salt River complex and includes a March 1 date with the University of Arizona.
The Diamondbacks open their 19th Spring Training on March 1 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick with an exhibition game against the University of Arizona at 3:10 p.m. This game is part of an annual Collegiate Series. In the first year of the collegiate series in 2015, the Diamondbacks played Arizona State University and will continue to rotate opponents between Arizona’s three Division I NCAA baseball programs, the Sun Devils, University of Arizona and Grand Canyon University (GCU) each year for the next five years.
The Diamondbacks officially open Cactus League play on March 2 with the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields. The Diamondbacks have 14 games against their National League West rivals with five games against the Colorado Rockies, four against the San Francisco Giants, and a pair of games versus the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Diamondbacks will play three night games at Salt River Fields, including match-ups on March 16 with the Cincinnati Reds, March 21 against the Milwaukee Brewers, and March 22 with the Giants. The Diamondbacks wrap up their spring training slate with a two-game set against the world champions Kansas City Royals on April 1 and 2 at Chase Field.
Former Diamondbacks’ infielder Cliff Pennington, who finished last season with the Blue Jays, signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 72 game with the Diamondbacks last season, Pennington hit .245.
The Angles represent Pennington’s four major league team. Having played with Oakland, Arizona and Toronto, Pennington has a life-time batting average of .245 for eight, major league seasons.