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ESPN Insider: D-backs’ Goldschmidt has second-best hit tools in baseball

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt (44) rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run off Houston Astros relief pitcher Luke Gregerson, as shortstop Marwin Gonzalez stands near second base during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is widely considered the front-runner for MVP honors in the National League.

Whether it is hitting a clutch home run or making an amazing play at first, the 29-year-old Goldschmidt can do it all on a baseball field.

In an insider piece, as part of his “best tools” week series, ESPN expert Keith Law ranked Goldy second in the hit tool category, behind only Houston Astros second baseman and American League MVP front-runner Jose Altuve.

In 2013 and 2015, Goldschmidt was the MVP runner-up to Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, respectively. But he is arguably having his best season in 2017.

Four years ago, Goldschmidt hit .297 with 31 home runs, 100 RBIs and a .945 OPS. In 2015, Goldschmidt’s average jumped 10 points and his OPS skyrocketed to 1.003.

This season, the five-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner is hitting .313 with more home runs (29) and more RBIs (96) in five fewer at-bats.

Entering play Tuesday, Goldschmidt is second in the NL in WAR (5.4), behind Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals. Goldschmidt’s .424 on-base percentage ranks third in the senior circuit and his 92 runs scored is tied with Harper for the third most in the league.

Plus, Goldschmidt is peaking at the right time. He has recorded at least one hit in 14 of his past 17 games (.323, 20-for-62).

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo’s decision to move Goldschmidt into the cleanup spot, combined with the addition of J.D. Martinez, has helped him see more pitches.

In 27 games since Martinez’s return to the lineup from the injury, Goldschmidt is hitting .333 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs, and his 13.2 percent walk rate during that span is slightly below his season average of 15 percent.

At the end the day, Goldschmidt’s MVP chances could depend on the Diamondbacks making the playoffs.

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