Part of the reason player profiles come in handy is because you get a season like the one turned in by Paul Goldschmidt in 2020. Despite reports of bone spurs in spring training, Goldschmidt played through them logging 58 games for the Cardinals with a bevy of double-headers due to the franchise dealing with COVID concerns causing a loss of games. Given that a limited sample can skew statistics, Goldschmidt accrued 231 plate appearances in the shortened season with 31 runs, six home runs, 21 RBI, one stolen base, and a .304/.417/.466 slash line.

This feels light, especially in terms of power but Goldschmidt underwent a procedure to clean out the bone spurs in his right elbow at the end of October. While going over his indicators, Goldschmidt turned in an impressive season in terms of plate discipline buoyed by his walk percentage rising to 16 percent versus a reduced strikeout rate of 18.6 percent. Yes, his isolated power dipped to .162, which is less than ideal from a power position like first base but Goldschmidt recorded a .381 weighted on-base average (wOBA).

Beneath the numbers, Goldschmidt reduced his swinging strike percentage (8.3 percent) and O-Swing (outside the strike zone) while increasing his contact rate (up to 79.5 percent) along with his Z-Contact (in the strike zone) to 85.9 percent. All positive outcomes for Goldschmidt.

According to Statcast, Goldschmidt registered 149 batted ball events with 16 barrels (10.7 percent), an average exit velocity of 89.2 MPH, his best sweet spot percentage (42.3) over the last five years and a hard hit rate of 40.9 percent. It's interesting to see Goldschmidt's expected numbers return a reduction in batting average (.287 xBA) but an increase in power (.513 xSLG). His expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) almost aligns with his wOBA above. Most encouraging, Goldschmidt cut his whiff percentage to 23.7 percent, his lowest result since 2016.

Battling through the bone spurs, Goldschmidt produced less ground balls and fly balls but a spike in line drive rate (38.6 percent) fueled his batting average. It remains to be seen if he can carry over the discipline and contact improvements to 2021, but there's a chance his power rebounds. Of his eight home runs including postseason totals, five of Goldschmidt's home runs rate as no-doubters (out of any park). Over the last two seasons, he's hit 44 actual home runs with a xHR of 47.4 so there's some positive migration to the mean lurking in his profile.

Expanding his numbers out to gain a larger sample, using the second half of 2019 added to the 2020 season provides more insight. In this time frame, here are Goldschmidt's numbers:

  • Goldschmidt 2H 2019-through-2020: 131 games, 536 plate appearances, 79 runs, 24 home runs, 81 RBI, four stolen bases; .282/.378/.508, 13.4 BB%, 20.9 K%, .225 ISO, .375 wOBA

Keep this in mind when viewing his projections for 2021 as a template. Also, here's a visual of his batted ball data using all of his line drives and fly balls in this sample with his home park as the overlay courtesy of Statcast:

Take note Goldschmidt does not rely on pulling the ball for home runs. He takes a left-center to right-center field approach at the plate along with a willingness to hit the ball to the opposite field. This insulates his batting average since he does not sell out for power. Add in the bone spur issue to 2020 and this enhances his value at first base. Especially in leagues which reward on-base percentage.

Before delving into his projections for the upcoming season, here are his results from the last three years:

  • Goldschmidt Last 3 Seasons: 380 games, 1,613 plate appearances, 223 runs, 73 home runs, 201 RBI, 11 stolen bases; .277/.373/.496, 12.8 BB%, 23.9 K%, .219 ISO, .369 wOBA

Comparing these to his two projection sets, Goldschmidt remains a stable skill set for fantasy purposes but the batting averages in each can be deceiving:

  • Goldschmidt 2021 Steamer Projection - 150 games, 662 plate appearances, 87 runs, 28 home runs, 89 RBI, four stolen bases; .265/.365/.470, 13.1 BB%, 23.9 K%, .205 ISO, .353 wOBA
  • Goldschmidt 2021 ZiPS Projection - 599 plate appearances, 76 runs, 23 home runs, 83 RBI, four stolen bases; .261/.359/.453, 12.6 BB%, 24 K%, 191 ISO, .340 wOBA

With so many variables affecting projections along with a chance of a late start to the 2021 season, take the numbers above with a grain of salt. Using his last three years, along with his second half of 2019 through the end of 2020 samples into account, here are some adjusted projections based on these results while planning on a batting average scale of .273-to-.283 for our purposes:

  • Goldschmidt with 300 plate appearances: 42 runs, 14 home runs, 42 RBI, two SB
  • Goldschmidt with 450 plate appearances: 62 runs, 20 home runs, 63 RBI, three SB
  • Goldschmidt with 600 plate appearances: 83 runs, 27 home runs, 85 RBI, four SB

In the projections above, a fusion of his past results with the projection sets factored in them. For projecting purposes, a run every 7.2 plate appearances, a home run every 22 plate appearances, an RBI every 7.1 plate appearances and a stolen base every 145 plate appearances were applied. Biggest outlier in the set above compared to the projection systems lies in the power, which should bounce back with full health for Goldschmidt making him a worthy target in 2021.

Statistical Credits:

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborksi