Each season Gold Glove awards are distributed to the “best fielders” at each position in both the American League and the National League. These awards are known to be controversial and misleading, if the scare quotes on “best fielders” didn’t already tell you that.
Every now and then a Gold Glove award is a well-deserved recognition. Naturally I am more inclined to believe that’s the case when it’s a member of the Colorado Rockies, and so I firmly believe that all three Rockies who have been named finalists this year are deserving. That would be Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, Nolan Arenado at third base, and Carlos Gonzalez in left field.
Start at shortstop, where the other finalists are Andrelton Simmons and Ian Desmond. Of that group, Tulowitzki has the highest fielding percentage at .986 (to .981 for Simmons and .971 for Desmond), but he played at least 300 fewer innings than either of the other two finalists. Simmons runs away with a 24.6 UZR compared to a 6.6 for Tulo and a 4.4 for Desmond (according to FanGraphs). Finally, Simmons had 41 defensive runs saved, far and away the most in the NL (Tulo had 6 and Desmond actually cost his team 3 runs).
If they go the route of giving the award to the best offensive player or giving the award based on reputation, it will likely go to Tulo. But truth be told, Simmons is probably the most deserving.
Speaking of a battle with a big name player’s reputation, Arenado is up against David Wright at third base. The third finalist is Juan Uribe, who somehow compiled 15 DRS (defensive runs saved) and a staggering 24.0 UZR. I really want to make fun of the fact that he is a finalist, but let’s face it, that dude got the job done this season. I still believe Arenado was better, with his 30 DRS second only to the spectacular Manny Machado in all of baseball and his 20.7 UZR. Wright does not belong in the same conversation by either of those metrics, with only 5 DRS and a 3.7 UZR (stats from FanGraphs).
Uribe leads the group with a .983 fielding percentage, while Wright and Arenado tied with a .973 mark. I really hate to admit it, but Uribe has a strong case and I can’t complain if he gets it. It will be stupid if Wright wins, and given the history of this award, he probably will. Before we move on, let’s relive a couple Arenado highlights from the season.
Yes, Drew Goodman, I do want to give him a Gold Glove.
Finally, CarGo is joined in left field by Starling Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates and none other than Eric Young Jr. Yes, that EY, the one who seemingly botched one play after another during his tenure with the Rockies. It would appear, though, that he played a pretty sound left field once joining the New York Mets.
Marte heads the group with 22 DRS and a 10.1 UZR. Young’s work was divided up among the different outfield spots, but in left field he had 2 DRS and a 3.9 UZR in 95 games. He also had 7 outfield assists to Marte’s 6. As for CarGo, he played 106 games in left field, logging 10 DRS and a 7.1 UZR. He also leads the group with 11 outfield assists, a factor which cannot be ignored (see video below). If that is accounted for in the voting, CarGo should win. If not, Marte should win.
Hat’s off to EY for improving so much in the field that he was named a finalist. It’s impossible not to like and cheer for that guy. Having said that, if he wins this award I will throw a full-blown hissy fit.