The 2013 season was a magical one for Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
The 26-year-old former eighth-round draft pick led the National League in home runs with 36 and RBI with 125. He also topped the Senior Circuit in on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS) while finishing 11th with a .302 batting average.
Considering those numbers, it’s no surprise Goldschmidt won the NL Hank Aaron Award, presented annually to the best hitter in each league. The slugger also collected a NL Silver Slugger Award, which goes to the top offensive player at each position.
But Goldschmidt is no one-trick pony, as evidenced by winning his first Rawlings Gold Glove last week.
His ever-growing trophy collection has led to speculation that Goldschmidt has a very good chance to win the National League MVP Award, which will be handed out November 11.
But does he? Does winning the Hank Aaron, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger ensure that Goldschmidt will become the first Diamondback ever to win an MVP?
Since the Hank Aaron Award was first presented in 1999, there have been six occasions when a player has swept all three awards prior to the announcement of the league MVP. In the National League, Atlanta’s Andruw Jones won all three in 2005 and Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp turned the trick in 2011. In the American League, it’s happened four times, with Texas’ Alex Rodriguez winning the three awards in 2002 and 2003 and New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter doing it in 2006 and 2009.
In those six instances, only one player, Rodriguez in 2003, went on to win his league’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Unfortunately for Goldschmidt, the predictors for who wins Most Valuable Player Awards are still very much tied to postseason appearances.
Since 1980, 66 MVPs have been handed out, and 52 have gone to players who have participated in the playoffs. The list of 14 players who have won an MVP without sniffing the postseason includes 1994 winners Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell — of course, there was no 1994 playoffs because of a labor disagreement.
And when you look for those who have accomplished what Goldschmidt has in 2013 — a Hank Aaron Award, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove on a non-playoff team — and still won the MVP, there is only one: Alex Rodriguez of Texas in 2003 did all of that for a last-place Rangers team.
That doesn’t seal Goldschmidt’s MVP fate, of course. But it does bode well for Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. McCutchen won a Silver Slugger Award while leading the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time since 1992 and Molina captured both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove for the National League champion Cardinals.
It’s certainly not a case of Goldschmidt being unworthy of the award, but historically so many voters look at the postseason column when casting their ballot that the D-backs’ star might be left out in the cold.