As of the morning of August 9, the Diamondbacks have played 113 games. Paul Goldschmidt has played in 112. At 25 years old, Goldy is just entering his physical prime – but it’s fair to wonder whether a day off might benefit him, and the team by extension.
Only Paul Goldschmidt, Kirk Gibson, and maybe a few other people have a strong idea of how he’s feeling and whether he could use a break. Gibby did indicate recently that he was looking for a way to schedule Goldy for a game off, but that hasn’t happened. During the recent road stretch in Tampa Bay, Texas and Boston, he did seem a little distracted and frustrated out there. After Arizona had a night off on Monday, he seemed a little more focused – and he tallied three walks (one intentional) in just four plate appearances Tuesday night.
That made me wonder how Goldschmidt has performed this season with and without rest. I segregated his season game log between games after a day off, games 2-3 days after his most recent game off, and games for which Goldy had been playing four or more straight days. Small sample size and lurking variable warnings apply, but the results are interesting:
In games after a day of rest, Goldy has an otherworldly 1.189 OPS. His OPS for the rest of the time is .901 – still great, but a bit of a dropoff (his overall OPS is .935). Other than a dip in batting average, it doesn’t seem from the numbers above that the boost from having a day off lasts for more than a day. So what if we stopped looking for the benefit of a day off, and started to look for the “wear down” effect of so many days “on”?
Well, that’s even more interesting than the day-off boost, right? When Goldy has been playing less than 7 games in a row, he’s a 1.019 OPS guy. When he’s gone more consecutive days without rest, he’s a .800 OPS version of himself. It looks like there’s something here, but let’s make sure it’s not just the effect of a Day One Boost:
Again, these are relatively small sample sizes, but the differences among these three categories are too enormous to ignore. It definitely looks like the difference between games 1-6 and games 7+ is not all about the Day One Boost. This is enough to convince me that days off are not a bad thing in terms of Goldy’s next day performance, and enough to convince me that the Cal Ripken treatment has had some kind of negative effect on his production.
Part of the problem is the lack of available alternatives. Eric Hinske is still second on the team with 26 defensive innings at first base (Goldy has 995.1). With Hinske gone, there’s no real “backup first baseman” on the roster – those duties would likely fall to Eric Chavez. Chavez, by the way, is the only other player to log any time at first this season, with 12 defensive innings (in which no balls were hit to him).
None of this is to say, of course, that Goldy should be given three days off a week from now on. The Day One Boost looks big, but if it only lasts for one day, the difference on a season can’t be very significant. I’m sure it’s also the case that playing half time would degrade Goldy’s skills. I think we and the team just enjoy the Day One Boost when it comes, rather than try to engineer it.
That Wear Down Effect, though, on 7+ games? It’s at least an indication that Goldy could use a break from time to time. He’s played different stretches of 16 days in a row, 13 days in a row, 14 days in a row, and even 20 days in a row (late June through early July). The Diamondbacks have had an unusual week this week, with off days on Monday and Thursday – so maybe that’ll have to do, for now. In the brutal 26 games in 26 days stretch that runs for Arizona between August 16 and September 11, though, I’d like to see Goldy get one or two days off.
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