While first base is generally considered among the deepest in all of fantasy sports, things have gotten even better with a recent influx of youngsters at the position.  Among those who have burst onto the scene is the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt, who made the jump from Double-A to the Majors as a 23 year old (he turned 24 in September) and posted the following line:

156 At Bats
.250 Batting Average (39 Hits)
8 Home Runs
26 RBIs
28 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.333 On Base Percentage
.474 Slugging Percentage
.323 BABIP

Goldschmidt caught everyone’s attention during his time at Double-A in 2011, hitting 30 HRs in 366 ABs.  You couple that with the 53 HRs he hit over his first two seasons—after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 draft—and you have a player with 83 HR in 1,178 ABs in the minor leagues.  That’s a home run every 14.2 ABs.

Let’s compare that to some of the best home run hitters in the Major Leagues in 2011:

  • Jose Bautista – HR every 11.9 AB
  • Matt Kemp – HR every 15.4 AB
  • Mike Stanton – HR every 15.2 AB
  • Ryan Braun – HR every 17.1 AB

Obviously the competition is dramatically different, but in his first taste of the Major Leagues Goldschmidt delivered a home run once every 19.5 ABs.  With more experience would it really be a surprise if he delivered like one of the elite sluggers in the game? 

If it is power that you are looking for, Goldschmidt is going to be a great selection, especially calling Arizona home.

With power should come RBIs and at least some runs, especially since he should ultimately hit fifth or sixth in the lineup.  Obviously, if he starts the season hitting seventh (or settles into the sixth slot) he won’t score as many runs, but if he can get to 70+ he should be alright.

The problem with Goldschmidt is the potential to struggle mightily in the average department, and it’s a potentially big issue.  He has suffered from strikeout issues since being drafted, and they culminated in the Major Leagues last season:

  • 2009 – Rookie League (287 ABs) – 22.4%
  • 2010 – Single-A (525 ABs) – 26.9%
  • 2011 – Double-A (366 ABs) – 20.1%
  • 2011 – Majors (156 ABs) – 29.9%

It’s not a surprise to see the leap forward against the tougher competition, and given what he did in Single-A in ’10, it may not be a completely unrealistic number either.  He did show some improvement with a little experience, going from a 32.6 percent strikeout rate in August to a 27.3 percent mark in September.  It’s not much, but at least it’s something.

If he can maintain a mark in the 27-28 percent range, given his power upside, he isn’t likely going to kill you in the average department (think around .255-.270).  The problem is it’s going to be a risky proposition.

What happens if the power isn’t quite what we expect?  The average is going to plummet (as is his overall value anyways).

What happens if the strikeouts remain extremely high?  He’s not going to hit for a strong average, which also will cost him RBI opportunities (since he won’t be making contact).

What happens if he doesn’t have much luck?  Well, you can see above, because it’s going to be the same scenario as if he had high strikeouts.

You put everything together and here’s what I am projecting for Goldschmidt for the 2012 campaign:

.260 (130-500), 29 HR, 85 RBI, 70 R, 6 SB, .318 BABIP, .337 OBP, .500 SLG

The bottom line with Goldschmidt is that, while he has the potential to have a monster 2012 season, he also has the potential to be a player similar to Mark Reynolds.  Obviously that’s a player with value, but not quite as much since he’s almost going to cripple you in one category.  Just keep that in mind before setting your sights on him on draft day.

Is he a player I would recommend?  Yes, but more as a corner infielder and if I can get him at a discount.  There’s too much risk involved in investing highly in him.

What are your thoughts of Goldschmidt?  Is he a player you believe is worth drafting?  What type of numbers are you expecting from him in 2012?

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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