Paul Goldschmidt’s NL MVP case, from those who know him best

Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals is having a fantastic season, but he thinks the National League MVP is his teammate, Paul Goldschmidt

Take a look at the numbers and there is a case to be made for plenty of candidates to be in the discussion for National League MVP. However, Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals (one of those players) says he only needs to look at the clubhouse locker next to him to see who should win the award … Paul Goldschmidt.

Sitting in the visitor’s dugout of Coors Field as he made his homecoming to face the Colorado Rockies, a team that drafted him and eventually traded him before the 2021 season, all eyes were on Arenado. There are the usual questions about his return to Denver and memories of playing with the Rockies, but when talk of his All-Star numbers this season (slashing .300/.369/.550 and an OPS+ of 161 heading into Wednesday’s game) turns to potential MVP discussion, Arenado is as quick to deflect that talk as he is to scoop up a hot smash at third base.

“That’s Goldy’s award,” Arenado said, referring to Goldschmidt. “I would have to go on a serious run to get that award from him. He deserves it right now.”

Cardinals back Paul Goldschmidt for NL MVP

“With him (Goldschmidt), it’s about consistency, and I think that’s the best way that you can be described is that you’re consistent,” Marmol said. “He’s a guy who shows up every day and has a routine that’s unmatched. What he does to be ready to play every day is hard to do, and not many guys are willing to do it.

“This is a guy who, every single day, doesn’t want out of the lineup. He’s playing every day … and it’s the preparation leading into that game that allows him to be as consistent as he is, and that’s pretty darn good.”

Marmol’s definition of “pretty darn good” aptly matches what Goldschmidt has put together so far in 2022, leading all MLB players in batting average (.329) and on-base percentage (.413) while pacing the National League in slugging percentage (.609), OPS (1.022), and OPS+ (191). Those are certainly MVP-type numbers, and Arenado says that watching Goldschmidt has made him a better player in the two seasons the duo have been teammates in St. Louis.

“I’ve played with some good players, but Goldy to me is the best player I’ve ever played with,” Arenado said. “I think he’s way better than me. I’m always trying to find ways to get better with him, just like when Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) and CarGo (Carlos Gonzalez) were here (in Colorado).

“We talk a lot about approaches before at-bats. I think that’s really helped us both.”

Goldschmidt agrees that he and Arenado have become better players by learning from each other. After competing against each other in the National League West when Arenado was with Colorado and Goldschmidt was with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Goldschmidt was traded to St. Louis before the 2019 campaign. Two seasons later, “Goldenado” became a nickname for the new duo that manned both corners of a new-look Cardinals infield.

“He definitely helps me,” Goldschmidt said of Arenado. “We talk about how pitchers are pitching and ask, ‘Hey, what do you see in my swing?’ or ‘What do you think is going to happen in this situation?’ Having another guy who thinks about hitting in a very similar way as me is nice to have on the bench to talk about at-bats and in the cage.”

The 34-year-old Goldschmidt has even been more deadly against left-handers this season, leading all MLB hitters in batting average (.458), on-base percentage (.547), slugging percentage (.847), and OPS (1.394) off southpaws. His lifetime OPS of 1.042 against lefties ranks third in MLB history since 1974 behind Frank Thomas (1.083) and Manny Ramirez (1.060).

“I think Goldy’s our main part. He gets on base. He drives in runs. He’s our leader,” Arenado said. “The rest of us have to help him out. We have to play our part and also pick him up and take a sense of pride in that.”

It’s a season that could result in the first-ever National League MVP award for Goldschmidt, who finished second for the accolade in 2013 and 2015 with Arizona. In all, he has finished in the top six on five different occasions in his 12-year career, but Arenado, Marmol, and plenty of others inside the Cardinals organization hope this is the season when Goldschmidt is finally handed the honor.

“He’s consistent overall with his physical and mental preparation,” Marmol said. “He’s putting together a pretty special season.”

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