• D-Backs' manager Torey Lovullo on Walker, Bradley vs. Royals

    D-Backs’ manager Torey Lovullo on Walker, Bradley vs. Royals

  • Archie Bradley after loss to Royals

    Archie Bradley after loss to Royals

  • Torey Lovullo after Greinke's loss vs. Royals

    Torey Lovullo after Greinke’s loss vs. Royals

  • Zack Greinke on his outing vs. Royals

    Zack Greinke on his outing vs. Royals

  • J.D. Martinez's on his record-tying home run

    J.D. Martinez’s on his record-tying home run

  • David Peralta on his walk-off walk, J.D. Martinez's hitting

    David Peralta on his walk-off walk, J.D. Martinez’s hitting

  • J.D. Martinez on his hot streak, D-Backs' win over Giants

    J.D. Martinez on his hot streak, D-Backs’ win over Giants

  • Robbie Ray after win vs. Giants

    Robbie Ray after win vs. Giants

  • Zack Godley after loss vs. Giants

    Zack Godley after loss vs. Giants

  • Paul Goldschmidt after D-Backs clinch wild card spot

    Paul Goldschmidt after D-Backs clinch wild card spot

  • D-Backs celebrate walk-off win over Miami

    D-Backs celebrate walk-off win over Miami

  • Diamondbacks celebrate playoff berth

    Diamondbacks celebrate playoff berth

  • Fernando Rodney on his 300th career save

    Fernando Rodney on his 300th career save

  • Chris Iannetta on his 8-RBI night in D-Backs' win

    Chris Iannetta on his 8-RBI night in D-Backs’ win

  • Archie Bradley answers questions from reporters – and J.D. Martinez

    Archie Bradley answers questions from reporters – and J.D. Martinez

  • Torey Lovullo after D-Backs avoid sweep in San Diego

    Torey Lovullo after D-Backs avoid sweep in San Diego

  • Torey Lovullo on recent offensive struggles after loss to Padres

    Torey Lovullo on recent offensive struggles after loss to Padres

  • A.J. Pollock on his two-homer game vs. Padres

    A.J. Pollock on his two-homer game vs. Padres

  • D-Backs' Zack Godley after loss to Padres

    D-Backs’ Zack Godley after loss to Padres

  • Patrick Corbin on mistakes vs. Padres

    Patrick Corbin on mistakes vs. Padres

  • Torey Lovullo on D-Backs' loss to Padres

    Torey Lovullo on D-Backs’ loss to Padres

  • Taijuan Walker on shaky outing vs. Giants

    Taijuan Walker on shaky outing vs. Giants

  • Zack Greinke after 2-0 win over Giants

    Zack Greinke after 2-0 win over Giants

  • Torey Lovullo on Greinke's dominant start vs. Giants

    Torey Lovullo on Greinke’s dominant start vs. Giants

  • Robbie Ray after 10-strikeout game vs. Giants

    Robbie Ray after 10-strikeout game vs. Giants

  • Archie Bradley on baseball and beards

    Archie Bradley on baseball and beards

  • Torey Lovullo on Pollock's two-run double, Ray's outing

    Torey Lovullo on Pollock’s two-run double, Ray’s outing

  • Shot Clock: D-Backs' Archie Bradley talks football

    Shot Clock: D-Backs’ Archie Bradley talks football

  • Zack Godley on his outing against the Rockies

    Zack Godley on his outing against the Rockies

  • Torey Lovullo on big win over Rockies

    Torey Lovullo on big win over Rockies

  • Paul Goldschmidt downplays his 1,000th career hit

    Paul Goldschmidt downplays his 1,000th career hit

  • Lovullo discusses his team's win over the Rockies

    Lovullo discusses his team’s win over the Rockies

  • D-Backs' A.J. Pollock on his three-hit night

    D-Backs’ A.J. Pollock on his three-hit night

  • Patrick Corbin on his outing against the Rockies

    Patrick Corbin on his outing against the Rockies

  • Shot Clock: D-Backs stay ahead of Rockies?

    Shot Clock: D-Backs stay ahead of Rockies?

  • Torey Lovullo on loss to Rockies

    Torey Lovullo on loss to Rockies

  • J.D. Martinez following D-Backs' loss to Rockies

    J.D. Martinez following D-Backs’ loss to Rockies

  • Taijuan Walker on his outing against the Rockies

    Taijuan Walker on his outing against the Rockies

  • Diamondbacks' rally falls short against Rockies

    Diamondbacks’ rally falls short against Rockies

  • Robbie Ray on his outing vs. Padres

    Robbie Ray on his outing vs. Padres

  • Manager Torey Lovullo on D-Backs' win, Bradley's save

    Manager Torey Lovullo on D-Backs’ win, Bradley’s save

  • Diamondbacks react to 'tough' loss to Padres

    Diamondbacks react to ‘tough’ loss to Padres

  • Coyotes take batting practice at Chase Field

    Coyotes take batting practice at Chase Field

  • Torey Lovullo on the end of the D-Backs' win streak

    Torey Lovullo on the end of the D-Backs’ win streak

  • Paul Goldschmidt says his elbow is structurally sound

    Paul Goldschmidt says his elbow is structurally sound

  • Zack Greinke after D-Backs' win over Dodgers

    Zack Greinke after D-Backs’ win over Dodgers

  • Torey Lovullo on D-Backs' record-tying 12th consecutive win

    Torey Lovullo on D-Backs’ record-tying 12th consecutive win

  • Shot Clock: JD rocks LA; Cards chase Seattle

    Shot Clock: JD rocks LA; Cards chase Seattle

  • J.D. Martinez on his four-homer night vs. Dodgers

    J.D. Martinez on his four-homer night vs. Dodgers

  • Paul Goldschmidt talks about his sore right elbow

    Paul Goldschmidt talks about his sore right elbow

  • Torey Lovullo on J.D. Martinez's four-homer performance

    Torey Lovullo on J.D. Martinez’s four-homer performance

  • Robbie Ray after striking out career-high 14 vs. Dodgers

    Robbie Ray after striking out career-high 14 vs. Dodgers

  • Torey Lovullo on D-Backs' 10th consecutive win

    Torey Lovullo on D-Backs’ 10th consecutive win

  • Zack Godley on wild yet effective outing vs. Rockies

    Zack Godley on wild yet effective outing vs. Rockies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Paul Goldschmidt flew to right in his first at-bat on Saturday night. He twice grounded harmlessly to short. In his other plate appearance, he drew a five-pitch walk.

Goldschmidt’s final month of the season has looked a lot like his game on Saturday night, a lengthy slump that is potentially meaningful for a pair of reasons. First and foremost, it is an apparent concern for the Diamondbacks, who depend on his production in the middle of their lineup and, it goes without saying, would prefer to have their players firing on all cylinders on the eve of the postseason.

But Goldschmidt’s offensive tailspin could also factor into his candidacy for the National League MVP. Over the course of the past month, he has gone from a player whose statistical profile made him look like the odds-on favorite to one whose numbers no longer stand out from the pack.

Since the start of September, Goldschmidt is hitting .175/.256/.313. He has just three home runs and five total extra-base hits. He has seen his batting average drop from .319 at the end of August to .299 after Friday’s 0 for 3.

It’s not just the worst month of the season for Goldschmidt – it might be the worst of his career. The only one close was in April 2012, the start of his first full season in the majors. In just 57 at-bats that month, Goldschmidt hit .193/.288/.281 with one home run.

After Friday, Goldschmidt is hitless in his past 15 at-bats with two walks.

“I know it’s so hard to be as consistent as he has been all year long, and he’s had a tremendous year,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “The season ebbs and flows. I just think he might be pulling off (pitches). There might be a little hustle to his swing where he’s not letting it get as deep as he possibly can.”

Goldschmidt missed five games early in the month with right elbow inflammation. He and the team said at the time that an MRI did not reveal structural damage. Lovullo said Saturday he does not believe the elbow is a factor in Goldschmidt’s struggles, nor does he think it’s an issue going forward.

“I think it’s of very minimal concern to me,” Lovullo said. “I think he would share with us if he had issues with it. I don’t think it’s been bothering him at all. In all my conversations, he’s never brought it up in the past three weeks.”

He thought the downtime could have thrown off Goldschmidt’s timing at the plate initially but believes he’s been back in the lineup long enough that it’s no longer an explanation.

Whatever the reason, Goldschmidt has company in a crowded NL MVP race, and his numbers – both advanced metrics and traditional stats – leave him, at best, bunched up in the pack.

Entering Saturday, Goldschmidt was tied for fifth in the league with 36 homers, but a whopping 23 behind MLB-leading Giancarlo Stanton. He also was fifth in OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) at .974, trailing another MVP contender in Joey Votto (1.033), who had a slight lead on Stanton (1.014).

Goldschmidt also was well behind in the statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which attempts to capture a player’s total contribution in hitting, fielding and baserunning. Both Baseball-Reference (5.9 WAR, seventh) and FanGraphs (5.4, 10th) had Goldschmidt outside the top five and well behind Stanton, the leader according to each site at 7.6 and 7.0, respectively.

One advantage he could have is the fact that he’s playing for a contending team, something some voters take into account for the MVP award.

Goldschmidt has twice finished runner-up in MVP voting – in 2013 to the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen and in 2015 to the Nationals’ Bryce Harper. He did not receive a first-place vote from any of the 30 voters either year.

NOTES: Zack Greinke to start wild-card game vs. Rockies

WILD-CARD INFO: How to watch, what to know

MORE: D-Backs owner sends plane to Puerto Rico for Fuentes’ family

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

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