Three Rockies Named Gold Glove Finalists

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Three Colorado Rockies were named Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists today, at least as many as any National League team other than Dodgers (4). Justin Morneau, DJ LeMahieu, and Nolan Arenado are the three finalists.

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Of the three, Arenado is the least surprising. Last year’s winner, the 24-year old third baseman looks set to compete for a Gold Glove award at third base for the next decade. His defensive stats are top-notch, with an NL-high 16 defensive runs saved at third base despite the fact that he lost weeks of his season to a broken finger and other various maladies.

In a race with Juan Uribe and Pablo Sandoval, Nolan Arenado must be favored to take home a second home Gold Glove. Neither Uribe nor Sandoval has won an award, and neither make the mind-blowing defensive plays Arenado makes consistently.

Both LeMahieu and Morneau will have a chance to win their first-ever Gold Glove. LeMahieu, in particular, should have a good shot against fellow defensive stalwarts Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley. The other two are bigger names, which often unfortunately influences the result, but LeMahieu was the best and most defensively sound of the three. He led NL second-basemen in both defensive runs saved (16) and Ultimate Zone Rating (10.7) while making just six errors in close to 1200 innings at second base.

Of the three, Justin Morneau, who signed with the Rockies last offseason, is perhaps the most surprising. I’ll admit now that I was wrong to call him an average defender before the season, because after a season I now realize that, although he’s not an advanced-stats darling like Arenado and LeMahieu, he is a very reliable first-baseman with the ability to snag errant throws and scoop balls out of the dirt.

While Morneau committed just four errors this year, he probably isn’t the favorite to win the Gold Glove. He faces staunch competition from Adam LaRoche and especially Adrian Gonzalez, who has already won three Gold Glove Awards. Morneau might not win, but the fact that he was even nominated makes his season defensively a huge success.

It’s nice to see the Rockies’ infield get some credit. It was terrific all year, so the fact that three members of the infield are nominees for Gold Glove Awards is gratifying. A solid infield defense didn’t help the Rockies win many games this year, but it’s a nice start to a potential 2015 bounceback season.

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