Paul Goldschmidt is the best homegrown Arizona Diamondbacks player of all-time and it is not close.
Last week’s loss of a legend is sincerely soul-crushing for Arizona Diamondbacks fans. Although it is extremely rare in professional sports today, Paul Goldschmidt could’ve been a Diamondback for life, and it would have been a beautiful thing. He was the right combination of beloved, loyal, and content. Instead, he leaves after seven full seasons in which (discounting his first half-season) he made the All-Star team seven times, won three Golden Gloves, and finished second in MVP voting twice – all for a team that won 48% of its regular season games and exactly one postseason game.
The Diamondbacks came into existence at about the same time that I developed an ability to form memories. In fact, one of my earliest memories is attending their inaugural game in 1998. I love the D-backs for the same reason I love my family, I was born with them. I had no choice in the matter. The fact is, even if I was freed to “pick” another team, perhaps one with a bigger budget, I would never do it. One of the idiosyncratic beauties of baseball is that not all teams are created equal, there are the haves and the have nots. The margin for error for a smaller market team is razor thin, a few financial misfires threatens to sink an organization in this position, and that makes success all the more fulfilling.
Paul Goldschmidt’s combination of opposite field power, ability to walk and see pitches, gold glove caliber fielding, and seemingly inhuman humility are even more astounding when you consider that they come from an 8th round pick — the 246th player taken in the 2009 MLB draft. But even when a fiscally disadvantaged team like the Diamondbacks strikes gold in the draft, they face difficulty in locking up players long term. The difference, in this situation, is that Goldy is undyingly loyal, in love with Arizona, and assuredly anti-greedy. His first extension with the team was for remarkably less than he could’ve commanded on the open market. He was willing to take a pay cut to stay a D-back. He was an exceptional case, and had things not been so mangled by previous management regimes, he very well may have played out his career in Arizona.