Goldschmidt recognized as a true professional
MLB.com goes around the league to measure success of young D-backs first baseman
PHOENIX -- Paul Goldschmidt is unfailingly polite.
But if you want to try and understand why the D-backs first baseman has had the success that he's had so far in his young career, asking Goldschmidt won't do you much good.
Goldschmidt, you see, is uncomfortable talking about his success on the field.
"I just know it's a very humbling game," the 25-year-old said. "So the second you think what I'm doing is the way to do it or you have things figured out, that can change in a hurry. I just know that's how the game is."
Goldschmidt is hitting .292 with five homers and 19 RBIs so far this season. Among National League first basemen, his five homers are second only to the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo and his wins above replacement mark of 0.8 is second only to the Reds' Joey Votto.
To try and get to the bottom of Goldschmidt's success in just his second full big league season, we asked a teammate, a coach, an opposing pitcher, a veteran NL first baseman, a longtime scout and a two-time Cy Young Award winner for their thoughts.
Aaron Hill -- D-backs second baseman
Hill and Goldschmidt both joined the D-backs' big league club in August 2011. Hill came over in a trade from Toronto, while Goldschmidt was called up from Double-A on Aug. 1, but the pair got to know each other much better that offseason when they worked out together.
"I've said on a number of occasions, this is my favorite young guy that I've ever played with. Just because I love his work ethic -- it's by far the best I've seen in a guy. The way he handles himself, the way he handles success, the way he handles failure, he's the same guy. It's just impressive to see from a guy who is just breaking in to have 'it.' I can't tell you exactly what 'it' is, but he has it.
"He's done well. Last year, he had a great year. But for him, he'll tell you what games he could have done better in. He's just a student of the game, which is impressive for a young guy to be that attuned to the game that way. He's only getting better, because he doesn't settle for anything less."
Todd Helton -- Rockies first baseman
Helton has never been a teammate of Goldschmidt's, but with the Rockies and D-backs playing 18 times a year, he's gotten a look at Goldschmidt and has liked what he's seen.
"He's a prototypical-looking first baseman, a big guy with pop. He's got good flexibility -- and not only is he a big, powerful guy, but he moves around well, he's athletic. He's going to be a good player. You can see he knows how to hit, he's not just up there all or nothing. He's got a good approach at the plate. He's a guy that will translate into a good player for a long time."
Matt Williams -- D-backs third-base coach/infield instructor
Williams has worked with Goldschmidt on his footwork around first base for the past three springs.
"I see a student of every aspect of the game. Like he knows where the guys are playing behind him when he's on the bases. He knows when to steal a base. He knows when he can take advantage of a situation. It computes really fast in his brain, for instance, on a ball down the line whether he can tag or not, those type of things.
"Al Leiter asked me when we were in New York, 'Is this guy a 30-home run guy?' I said, 'No, I wouldn't classify him as that. I would classify him as a .300 hitter with power.' I don't know how many home runs he'll hit, but he's a .300 hitter, which is hard to do.
"He takes it all very seriously. You'll notice he doesn't do the crazy handshakes. Somebody made the remark that 'Goldy doesn't play.' That's because he takes it very seriously."
A longtime Major League scout
A scout with another organization, who has seen Goldschmidt from his Minor League days through the past two seasons.
"I just like the way he goes about his business. He's made a lot of improvements, and he's a kid I kind of root for. He busts his butt. He's really improved at first base. At first, you thought, 'Well, he might be adequate,' but now he's more than adequate.
"There's no doubt the strength is there, and he doesn't give up at-bats, and that's a big thing. He's learning the league, he's learning pitchers. He always had a pretty good eye for the strike zone, but you could pitch to him. But now it's getting a little tougher. Real good velocity, he's still going to be at times behind, but you see that from Miguel Cabrera at times."
Tim Lincecum -- Giants right-hander
Goldschmidt has had tremendous success against Lincecum in his short career. He is 9-for-17 against the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, and he's hit more home runs (five) against Lincecum than any other pitcher.
"From what I remember hearing about him when he was coming up, he shot through it really fast, and you kind of get in your mind that this guy is probably a pretty good hitter, obviously. But he was patient, he wasn't just swinging at anything. He hurts you when you make a mistake, and I tend to make more mistakes with him than with other hitters.
"He's not a guy that has all these things that he does at the plate before, like all those superstitions -- he just seems like he goes out there to play. It looks like he goes out there and says, 'I'm here to make plays when I can, and hit the ball how I can and just try and help the team.' That's just the impression I get from watching him play."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.