New hitting coach Turner Ward has had a major impact on Paul Goldschmidt's career
The St. Louis Cardinals made a series of moves with their coaching staff shortly after the 2022 season came to an end, and one of those moves was at hitting coach. When Jeff Albert left the team after four seasons, the Cardinals elevated assistant hitting coach Turner Ward to hitting coach. He brings over a decade of experience as a player and as a coach. and another thing he has is a very special relationship with the reigning National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt.
About a decade after Wards 12 year playing career came to an end, he was hired to be the manager of the Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate, the Mobile Bay Bears for the 2011 season. At the time Goldschmidt was a top-10 prospect for the Diamondbacks, and he along with Ward was joining Mobile for the first time in 2011. Goldy put up big numbers with Mobile, a .306/.435/.626 slash line in just 103 games. This huge success led Arizona to call up Goldschmidt straight to the major leagues, bypassing Triple-A and he never looked back, concluding Goldy and Wards' first time together.
Paul had a very productive first full season with the Diamondbacks in 2012, hitting .286 with 20 home runs, 18 steals, and a .360 on base. After Turner Ward won back-to-back Southern League championships with Mobile in '11 and '12, he was promoted to the Diamondbacks to be the assistant coach for the end of the 2012 season. With Ward and Goldschmidt together again, that was when they started to spend lots of time together, discussing baseball and life outside of baseball, Ward praised Goldy as a guy that "never stopped learning ".
When Arizona kept Ward with the big club to be the assistant hitting coach, these two were together for a full season for the first time, and Paul saw a rise in his production, a very significant rise. 2013 was Goldschmidts best season in Arizona, he led all of baseball that season in home runs (36) RBI ( 125) Slugging (.551) OPS (.952) OPS+ (160) total bases (332), and intentional walks (19). He was an All-Star for the first time, he won his first silver slugger, and he was National League MVP runner-up to Pirates Andrew McCutchen. When Ward became the D'Backs hitting coach in 2014 through 2015 Goldy did not slow down, he was an All-Star and hit over .300 both seasons (he did not hit over .300 again in Arizona after Wards' tenure), and in 2015 he won his second silver slugger: and again was NL MVP runner up, this time to Nationals Bryce Harper. It was when Ward left Arizona after the 2015 season that you saw how close these two are.
Ward stayed in the NL west, becoming the Dodgers hitting coach in 2016, when the D'Backs first went to L.A. that season Goldy along with his wife gave Ward a gift, he gave him his silver slugger award that he won from the season before. Goldy would, later on, be quoted saying as giving Ward his silver slugger award as a " small token of appreciation " and that " my life would not be the same without you ". It truly was a friendship between the player and coach. Goldschmidt continued to be one of the best hitters in the league after Ward left, and they stayed in touch when Goldy was traded to the Cardinals in 2019 and Ward was hired to be the Reds hitting coach that same season, but these two would cross paths on the same team one more time.
In the 2021 off-season, the Cardinals hired Turner Ward to be the assistant hitting coach. Goldys first 3 seasons in St.Louis were very good, but in 2022 as we all know, he found another level. His numbers were as dominant as they were when Ward was his hitting coach in Arizona. A .317 average ( his highest since 2015 ) 35 HR and 115 RBI ( most since 2017 ) 76 extra-base hits (a new career high ) and yet again he led all of baseball in Slugging, OPS, and OPS+. He was an All-Star for the 7th time and the first time as a Cardinal, his 5th silver slugger ( again first in STL) and he finally won the National League MVP, another phenomenal season.
You could see on dozens of occasions last season where Goldy would go into the dugout and talk with Ward after an at-bat. Lots of times other players would listen in on these conversations, whether it was something he saw with his swing, or if it's just personal things like they've talked about in the past or a little of both, their bond seems to be unbreakable. And the numbers do not lie here, his hitting stats are better when Turner Ward is his coach. Now that Ward is the hitting coach of the Cardinals, I would expect another big season from Goldy in 2023, and with him leading what should be one of the best lineups in baseball, let's hurry up and get the season going.