St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt ranked as top first baseman

Paul Goldschmidt is one of the first basemen in baseball.

MLB Network recently listed their top 10 first basemen and listed St. Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt No. 2, with only National League MVP Freddie Freeman ranking ahead of him.

Goldschmidt, 33, had a strong season in 2020, hitting .304/.417/.466. His power numbers were down this year (6 homers) after he had hit at least 33 home runs in four of the previous five seasons. But his OPS+ this season (142) was much higher than the previous year (115), meaning that while he was an above average player in 2019, he was an upper echelon player this past season.

The Cardinals can expect more of the same for Goldschmidt, who is one of the most consistent players in baseball. He has shown no signs of slowing down and will anchor their lineup once again in 2021, but the team would be wise to build around him and protect him in the lineup. There are few true threats in the current lineup, meaning teams can easily pitch around Goldschmidt and limit his impact at the plate.

Of course, the free-agent market is starting to move, and it is possible the Cardinals re-sign Yadier Molina. They can also continue to pursue free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson, among others, and evaluate different options to replace Kolten Wong at second base.

But the Cardinals offense starts – and ends – with Goldschmidt. His sustained run of dominance is why the front office led by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak felt comfortable trading Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver and Andrew Young for Goldschmidt in the winter of 2018.

Goldschmidt is still under contract for years to come and figures to be a similar type threat in the middle of the Cardinals lineup. And as long as he remains in the lineup, not only will they have one of the best first basemen in baseball, they will also be threats to win the National League Central.