When Arizona Diamondbacks legend Luis Gonzalez tallied 57 home runs in 2001, hitting behind him for most of the year was Matt Williams, who just two years prior hit 35 home runs to go along with 142 RBI.
Protection, he'd later say, was a major factor in his success that season -- helping him to see better pitches from opposing pitchers throughout the season because of Williams' reputation as a hitter. And now Gonzalez feels the star of the organization whom he works for, Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, will encounter the same reality in the 2014 season, now that the newly-acquired Mark Trumbo will be hitting behind him.
"That was the best Christmas gift for Goldschmidt because now it provides protection," Gonzalez explained of the trade for Trumbo to The Doug and Wolf Show on Friday.
Trumbo, who has hit more than 30 home runs in each of his last two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- and 29 the year prior -- was slated as a major piece of protection for Goldschmidt by general manager Kevin Towers. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound slugger provided increasingly-rare right-handed power in the middle of the Diamondbacks' order, boasting a .491 slugging percentage two years ago, when he was selected to the 2012 AL All-Star team.
Goldschmidt was thought to be on an island in the middle of the Diamondbacks order throughout the 2013 season, when he led the National League in home runs and RBI en route to finishing second in MVP balloting. Key fixtures in the middle of the Diamondbacks order like Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel were mired by either injuries or slumps, leaving Goldschmidt to fend for himself against the strike zone avoidance of opposing pitchers.
"I was in the same situation as Goldy was when I had Matt Williams hitting behind me," Gonzalez informed.
With the presence of a big bat behind him, Gonzalez says he flourished late in his career. Such a presence provided a myriad of benefits for him, and he expects the same for Goldschmidt with the addition of Trumbo.
"You get to see a lot better pitches -- more fastballs, because they want to challenge you and go after you because the guy behind you has a reputation of hitting a lot of home runs and things like that."