Paul Goldschmidt and his Five Tools

Typically when people think of five-tool players they think of guys like Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez. Basically up-the-middle players who do everything well. Paul Goldschmidt however is not an up-the-middle player but I believe he does have the five tools.

For those who don’t know the five tools are what scouts use (among other things) to evaluate a player. The five tools are hitting for power, hitting for average or contact ability, defense, arm and finally speed.

When looking at Goldschmidt the one tool that stands out is his power. He put up at least a .600 slugging percentage (SLG) and at least a .290 isolated power (ISO) and 2 seasons of 30 home runs in his 3 minor league seasons. His power has showed in the majors as well. In 2012 his first full season in the majors he hit 20 home runs, had a .490 SLG and a .204 ISO. This season his power has taken another step forward. He currently has 31 home runs, .548 SLG and a .251 ISO, all of which currently lead National League first basemen. I specify National League here because that Chris Davis guy has been pretty darn good this season.

Goldschmidt’s hit tool is solid but not close to as good as his power tool. With that being said Goldschmidt is still coming into his own in terms of contact rate. His contact rate has improved each season he has been in the big leagues as per pitch f/x, it rose from 70.7% in 2011, to 77.1 in 2012 and to 78.7% this season. With that contact rate increasing his strikeout rate, as to be expected, has decreased at roughly the same rate. His strikeout percentage has dropped from 29.9% in 2011, to 22.1% in 2012 and to 20.6% this season. Batting average is never the best way to evaluate a player but it does judge a players’ hit tool. His BA has risen from .250 in 2011 to.286 in 2012 to .298 this season. His BABIP is high this season at .333 but it is actually down from last season’s .340.  He had very high BABIPs in the minors and from his batted-ball profile looks like he may be a guy who consistently posts BAPIPs above .300.

His defense is again a work in progress. Defensive numbers take about three seasons to become relevant and we don’t quite have that yet but we do have 2695.2 innings for Goldschmidt at 1B. In those innings he has shown to be an above average defender. This season Goldschmidt has an ultimate zone rating of 4.9 which is fifth among qualified first-basemen. Over the last three seasons Goldy’s UZR is 2.9 which among first basemen with a minimum of 2500 innings ranks 7th out of 13. Essentially an average defender. DRS however tells a different story, this season anyway. Per DRS Goldy has been among the best fielding first basemen. He has saved 11 runs, which is tied for the lead with Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo.

A first baseman’s arm is very difficult to judge as it is hardly ever needed. To my knowledge  there are not yet stats that judge a player’s arm. So the only way to evaluate a player’s arm is by scouting the player. I did a quick Google search trying to find a scouting report on Goldschmidt’s arm and I found nothing. Thankfully FanGraphs has a feature where fans can submit their reports on players. Of course this isn’t the most accurate analysis, but it will do. The fans gave Goldschmidt a 48 (0-100 scale) in arm strength in 2011 and a 44 arm strength in 2012. His accuracy was given a 53 and 41 in 2011 and 2012 respectively. We can conclude from this that Goldschmidt has about an average arm.

Finally the last tool to look at is arguably Goldy’s second-best tool, his speed.  Goldy stole 18 bases last season which was tops among qualified first basemen. This season he has 13 which again is tops among qualified first basemen. There is more to speed than just pure stolen bases, the ability to go first to third or score from second on a single.  There is a stat that measures this, called base-running runs above average (BsR). It takes all base-running into account including steals and caught stealing. Goldschmidt has again been elite in this category. This season he has been worth 1.2 runs above average which is 4th among first basemen. Last season he was worth 3.2 runs above average which was tops in the National League and second to only Eric Hosmer.

To conclude, perhaps Goldschmidt is not the five-tool player I had anticipated. He does however have 2 very elite tools in his power and speed. He has 2 average tools in his contact rate and defense. His arm is average to below average but for a first basemen that’s not too important. He isn’t quite a five-tool first baseman but 4 average to elite tools with only 1 below average tool make him about as close to a complete-package first baseman as you’re going to find in the game today.

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Paul is a 4th year university student majoring in Sport Management and minoring in Economics

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Ben Crossett
Ben Crossett

Give the hit tool a little more credit. By scouting metrics his hit tool at present would grade a 60 and with his ongoing development which is supported by your secondary stats, I think you could make a case that the OFP on his hit tool would be in the 65 (if you play in increments of 5) to 70 range for his peak season(s). On the surface he may not fit that profile, but his level of improvement over the past 5 years simply cannot be ignored.

Marc Porter
Marc Porter

I disagree that batting average can be used to evaluate a guy’s hit tool. As you say, batting average is influenced by BABIP, which is then influenced by one’s power. Between 2005 and 2006, Ryan Howard hit .305 with a 27% strikeout rate. He had no hit tool yet still hit .300 because of his legendary power. The only way to evaluate a guy’s hit tool is to look at the rate at which he makes contact. Strikeout rate works great. Batting average actually factors in hit tool, power, and luck.