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D-backs manager: Lack of recognition for Paul Goldschmidt is frustrating

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, right, jokes with pitching coach Mike Butcher as Goldschmidt waits to bat against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

LISTEN: Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks manager

Virtually from the moment he made his Major League debut on Aug. 1, 2011, Paul Goldschmidt has been an Arizona treasure.

He helped lead the D-backs to the playoffs that season, where he hit .438 with two home runs and six RBI in four games.

He looked like a star in the making, with that notion only being confirmed in subsequent seasons. He made his first All-Star team in 2013, when he hit .302 with 36 home runs and 125 RBI and finished second in the NL MVP voting, and since has been viewed as one of the premier players in the game.

Now a four-time All-Star who has finished as the runner-up in the MVP voting twice, Goldschmidt is perhaps in the midst of his best season ever.

Through 77 games in 2017, the 29-year-old is batting .327 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI. He has on on-base percentage of .443 and a 1.041 OPS, both of which would represent the highest totals of his career.

Yet, while he is certainly on the way to his fifth-straight All-Star Game and very much in the running to finally claim an MVP award, his skipper, Torey Lovullo, believes Goldschmidt does not necessarily get his due.

A guest of Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Thursday morning, Lovullo was asked who he thinks the most underrated player on his team is.

He mentioned relief pitcher Archie Bradley, but said folks around baseball know what the hurler is capable of.

“I’m going to go right to the top: Paul Goldschmidt is absolutely underappreciated,” the skipper said. “I guess underappreciated by the rest of the league.

“This guy is absolutely one of the best players in both leagues, and on the East Coast you don’t really hear much about Paul Goldschmidt, which is frustrating to me.”

Lovullo would know.

Before becoming the D-backs’ manager, he had spent four seasons with the Boston Red Sox and prior to that, was with the Toronto Blue Jays.

While folks in the desert refer to Goldschmidt as “America’s First Baseman,” the moniker apparently has not exactly caught on everywhere else. The D-backs’ struggles to win games did not help Goldschmidt’s cause, as win totals of 81, 81, 64, 79 and 69 did little to draw positive attention to anything going on with the team, regardless of how great one of its players may have been playing.

“I’m glad that I’ve gotten a chance to sit in the dugout with him; I’m honored when I get to sit in the dugout with him,” Lovullo added. “I’m next to him and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe that this guy’s actually talking to me,’ he’s this good.”

The first-year manager then mentioned pitcher Zack Godley as someone who might be underrated, before noting that the way they see it, every player on the team has value and therefore each receives their due.

But when it comes to national attention, he believes a player of Goldschmidt’s caliber deserves more, though he is at a disadvantage.

“I don’t want to say he’s underrated because he is spectacular, but you don’t know what’s happening in Arizona or on the West Coast when you spend all your time on the East Coast (because) you’re asleep when the games are over,” Lovullo said. “And you know the name ‘Paul Goldschmidt,’ but when you get a chance to watch what he does and the value that he has outside of standing in the batter’s box, you can’t measure it.

“It’s leadership in the clubhouse, it’s leadership in the dugout; it’s just a positive push every single time. When somebody needs to stand up in our advance meetings and make a point about what we’re going to be facing or seeing, he’s the first guy and he sets the tone and guys follow.”

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