First off, apologies to the Milwaukee Brewers. They beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 with three home runs off Zack Greinke and Corey Knebel recorded his first save since March 30. They're in first place in the NL Central and deserve credit for sitting 10 games over .500 even though their lineup has been extremely mediocre. The bullpen, however, has not, and it's only strengthened if Knebel resumes the closer role, freeing up Josh Hader for those multi-inning stints as needed.
What most intrigues from this game, however, is yet another oh-fer for Paul Goldschmidt. He's down to .201/.322/.361 and he looks broken right now. We're now talking about 199 plate appearances with no improvement in sight. An Arizona Republic story on April talked about his slow start. Greg Moore's column in the Republic on May 9 was headlined "Diamondbacks aren't worried -- slumping Paul Goldschmidt is going to be fine."
It's now May 21. It's time to worry.
You can make the argument that right now Goldschmidt is the most important player in baseball. He's supposed to be the superstar anchor to a lineup that would have some concerns even if he were producing. A.J. Pollock was crushing it until he landed on the DL. Jake Lamb just returned from spending most of the season on the DL. Steven Souza Jr. has barely played. The catchers haven't hit a lick, middle infielders Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed don't give you much offense and reserves Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings haven't done anything.
As a team, the Diamondbacks are hitting .217. Only the Marlins have scored fewer runs per game.
So, before getting to what ails Goldschmidt, a timeout. The Diamondbacks installed a humidor at Chase Field to help decrease offense at one of the best hitting parks in the majors. Has the humidor worked too well? After all, Goldschmidt is hitting .140 with no home runs at home. Let's check Arizona's home/road splits from 2017 and 2018:
2017: .274/.350/.492, HR every 22.5 ABs
2018: .210/.294/.346, HR every 46.7 ABs
2017: .235/.309/.398, HR every 28.4 ABs
2018: .224/.294/.404, HR every 24.3 ABs
Well, that's something. Arizona's road production is down from 2018, but not by much, and the Diamondbacks are actually homering a little more often on the road even though power guys such as Lamb and Souza haven't played much. The home stats, however, are abysmal.
So, back to our resident MVP candidate. Here are Goldschmidt's home/road splits the past three seasons:
2016: .298/.405/.524, HR every 19.5 ABs
2017: .321/.443/.639, HR every 13.7 ABs
2018: .140/.321/.209, no HRs in 86 ABs
2016: .296/.416/.453, HR every 31.9 ABs
2017: .275/.363/.489, HR every 17.8 ABs
2018: .265/.322/.518, HR every 16.6 ABs
He has been good on the road, not so good at home. Maybe the humidor is in his head -- those fly balls that used to sneak over the fence are now getting caught. We also need to be aware of small sample sizes here. Goldschmidt doesn't say much, but in the column from May 9 his explanation was, "It's just part of the game." Still, he has hit one home run in his past 32 games and is hitting .183 in that span. And he leads the NL in strikeouts.
I don't think it's just the humidor. Even on the road, his strikeout rate has increased from 22.3 percent in 2017 to 30.0 percent and his walk rate has declined from 11.3 percent to 6.7 percent. Buster Olney alluded to a big issue in a recent column about hitters struggling with big-time fastballs: "Through Friday's games, the Diamondbacks' first baseman had seen 77 pitches of 96 mph or faster without logging a hit, the most in the majors."
While he has one hit since then, Goldschmidt's swing-and-miss rate has risen the past two seasons:
2016: 22.9 percent
2017: 26.5 percent
2018: 30.9 percent
Another indicator is when he does make contact, Goldschmidt's average exit velocity is down from 91.4 mph in 2017 to 88.8 mph. Maybe he's hurt. Maybe all it will take is a mechanical fix he has yet to figure out. While he probably won't continue to be this bad, Diamondbacks fans should be worried; there are some bad warning signs here.
Home run of the day: Juan Soto, the Nationals 19-year-old just up from Double-A, did this:
Juan Soto's first MLB start.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 21, 2018
Juan Soto's first MLB hit.
Juan Soto's first MLB HR.
Juan Soto's first MLB RBI ... and second MLB RBI ... and third MLB RBI. pic.twitter.com/WZROZwD89c
He's the first teenager to homer since some guy named Harper, and only six players since 1965 have homered at a younger age: Cesar Cedeno, Robin Yount, Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones, Adrian Beltre and Jurickson Profar.
The first of many. And the best part: The Bryce Harper imitation, pretending to flip his hair:
This kid has IT, all caps. Maybe he doesn't go back to the minors. Eddie Matz has the full report from D.C.
Speaking of NL West first basemen ... In that 10-2 win for the Nationals, Mark Reynolds homered twice. That's four home runs in six games for Reynolds since joining Washington. Meanwhile, in Colorado ...
Do you want me to go further? Ian Desmond is at .172/.227/.356. The Rockies need to fix first base. Maybe they should have re-signed Reynolds, who at least gave them a league-average bat last season.
Speaking of rookies who can hit ... Gleyber Torres homered twice for the Yankees and is hitting .321/.389/.571 with six homers, including the one below against the Royals on Saturday:
By the way, is it possible Shohei Ohtani isn't a lock for AL Rookie of the Year?