M-SABR Gold Glove Predictions

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Welcome to the first of 21 Articles in 21 Days on MSABR.com! We’ve got a lot in store for you over the next three weeks, but with Gold Glove Awards being announced Tuesday night, we as a staff decided to take a crack at those!

American League

Catcher

Finalists: Yan Gomes (CLE), Martin Maldonado (LAA), Salvador Perez (KC)

Winner: Martin Maldonado

by Patrick Awtrey

This is the year Salvador Perez finally gets unseated as the reigning Gold Glover. Among the finalists, Maldonado had by far the fewest errors (2) while having the most chances and playing in the most innings. He also had the most Defensive Runs Saved (10), while Perez regressed defensively compared to years past.

 

First Base

Finalists: Carlos Santana (CLE), Eric Hosmer (KC), Mitch Moreland (BOS)

Winner: Carlos Santana

by Cam Cain

Santana led all of the finalists with a 4.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and tied with Moreland with 10 Defensive Runs Saved. The one nomination that doesn’t make much sense is Hosmer, who was a below average defensive first baseman this year. A better choice would have been Joe Mauer, who was actually a better defender than all 3 of these guys. Since Mauer is not a nominee, my vote goes to Santana.

 

Second Base

Finalists: Brian Dozier (MIN), Ian Kinsler (DET), Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

Winner: Ian Kinsler

by Zane Harding

Okay, first things first, Brian Dozier finished this year with -4 DRS, so let’s make this clear: the 2B Gold Glove finalists are pretty weak. That makes this, once again, a race between Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia (just like every other year). Wait, what’s that? Dustin Pedroia posted a negative DRS, as well? -2? Welp. Kinsler had a DRS of 6, and I don’t see a negative there, so it has to be Ian. There isn’t any amazing video highlight for his leather this year, but hey, there is the video highlight of when Ian told Angel Hernandez that he needs to get another job in August. He deserves some kind of major award for that alone.

 

Third Base

Finalists: Manny Machado (BAL), Jose Ramirez (CLE), Evan Longoria (TB)

Winner: Manny Machado

by Duncan Wallis

Well, mostly, because this:

Especially check out the third play where he does it while blowing a bubble… what more do you need? Okay, fine, stats too. How’s 1370 innings and 14 errors for a UZR that’s #1 among the nominees?

 

Shortstop

Finalists: Elvis Andrus (TEX), Andrelton Simmons (LAA), Francisco Lindor (CLE)

Winner: Andrelton Simmons

by Duncan Wallis

We’ve all been graced with watching his defensive highlights for years. And then there’s this:

Who does that?!? If you’re still not convinced, try a total defensive contribution of 15 runs above average and an otherworldly 32 defensive runs saved, a total no shortstop besides Simmons has matched since 2006. Simmons led all of baseball in defensive WAR with a 4.2 mark, 1.4 above the next highest players, Tucker Barnhart and Byron Buxton at 2.8.

 

Left Field

Finalists: Brett Gardner (NYY), Alex Gordon (KC), Justin Upton (LAA)

Winner: Brett Gardner

by Matthew Kikkert

Despite playing in 18 fewer games than Gordon, and 29 fewer than Upton, Gardner recorded more outfield assists (10) than both players. Along with Gardner’s outstanding arm, he was consistent throughout the season, not recording a single error! In my opinion, consistency is often overlooked, but it won’t be tonight when Gardner takes home Gold Glove honors for the second time in his career.

 

Center Field

Finalists: Lorenzo Cain (KC), Kevin Pillar (TOR), Byron Buxton (MIN)

Winner: Byron Buxton

by Zane Harding

Baseball’s fastest player didn’t disappoint in center this year. Buxton finished with the second highest defensive WAR in all of baseball at 2.8, tied with Tucker Barnhart and only behind Andrelton Simmons. Additionally, Buxton had 24 DRS, nearly double what Pillar had at 13 DRS, and nearly five times what Cain had at 5 DRS. This is a no-brainer.

 

Right Field

Finalists: Kole Calhoun (LAA), Mookie Betts (BOS), Aaron Judge (NYY)

Winner: Mookie Betts

by Patrick Awtrey

I’ve heard that Judge is a sure bet for this award. I sure hope not. Mookie had 31 Defensive Runs saved. Judge had 9, and Calhoun had 2. In a season where Judge will be considered for so many awards, let’s give this one to the guy who clearly deserves it most. I’m betting on Betts.

 

Pitcher

Finalists: Chris Sale (BOS), Marcus Stroman (TOR), Alex Cobb (TB)

Winner: Marcus Stroman

by Matthew Kikkert

While Sale recorded a perfect fielding percentage over the season, I believe Marcus Stroman proved more valuable on defense, despite his lone error. According to DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), Stroman saved five runs over the season, compared to Sale saving just two. Through old school analysis of pitching defense, Stroman had the advantage in assists (37-22) and putouts (9-8), over Sale. Finally, Stroman started 6 double plays (doubling Sale), which is an important defensive asset for a pitcher, as this leads to additional outs for the team, attributable to quick thinking by the pitcher. While we’re at it, please also consider Marcus Stroman for a new award: AL Silver Slugger for Pitcher (See Link).

 

National League

Catcher

Finalists: Buster Posey (SF), Yadier Molina (STL), Tucker Barnhart (CIN)

Winner: Tucker Barnhart

by Cam Cain

Barnhart not only led all catchers with 21 Defensive Runs Saved, but he had nearly twice as many as any other catcher. Molina and Posey aren’t even in the top 15. He also led all catchers with 32 base stealers thrown out and 2.8 Defensive WAR. It would be an absolute travesty if Barnhart did not win this award.

 

First Base

Finalists: Joey Votto (CIN), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

Winner: Joey Votto

by Griffin Murphy

While Goldy and Rizzo compare well to Votto in Defensive Runs Saved (10, 9, and 11 respectively), Votto easily beat out his two competitors in UZR (6.6 to 4 for Rizzo and 3.7 for Goldschmidt). In spite of the fact that he’s getting up there in age, Votto remains the premier first baseman in the NL, edging out his younger competition.

 

Second Base

Finalists: DJ LeMahieu (COL), Dee Gordon (MIA), Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Winner: Dee Gordon

by Max Smith

The first name says it all. When it comes to playing D, Mr. Gordon is the cream of the crop at Second Base in the NL. With the fourth fastest sprint speed in the Majors (29.7 ft/sec per Statcast), Gordon possesses exceptional range that is reflected by his commanding lead over his peers at his position in both Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)–6.4 to LeMahieu’s 3.8–and Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF)–8.6 to LeMahieu’s 6.0. Here’s the tape to prove it:

 

Third Base

Finalists: Nolan Arenado (COL), Anthony Rendon (WAS), David Freese (PIT)

Winner: Nolan Arenado

by Clayton Myers

Arenado led National League Third Basemen in Defensive Runs Saved for the fifth consecutive year with 20. Arenado won the gold glove each of the four previous times, expect him to make it five straight. He also finished second in the National League, and first among third basemen with a 2.3 defensive WAR.  

 

Shortstop

Finalists: Freddy Galvis (PHI), Brandon Crawford (SF), Corey Seager (LAD)

Winner: Corey Seager

by Griffin Murphy

In one of the tighter gold glove decisions in the NL, Seager will slightly edge out 2016 winner Crawford. The two are neck and neck in both primary defensive sabermetrics, with Seager topping Crawford in DRS (10 to 9) and Crawford taking the cake in UZR (7.0 to 6.7). Notably, Seager tops Crawford in UZR/150 (9.5 to 8.4) which takes into account time missed. While this race could go either way, I believe that Seager has the slight advantage. This ridiculous catch won’t hurt his chances either.

 

Left Field

Finalists: Gerardo Parra (COL), Adam Duvall (CIN), Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

Winner: Gerardo Parra

by Billy Stampfl

Though Parra played the fewest innings of any candidate in left field, he was more efficient than both Duvall and Ozuna. Parra led his competitors in UZR and Range Runs, and — for all the traditionalists — boasted the highest fielding percentage of the three.

Center Field

Finalists: Billy Hamilton (CIN), Michael Taylor (WAS), Ender Inciarte (ATL)

Winner: Michael Taylor

by Max Smith

When Adam Eaton went down with a gruesome knee injury early in the year, Nationals fans were devastated. Little did they know the baby-faced assassin Michael A Taylor would step up and deliver a career season. While he might be most fondly remembered for his huge, if ultimately futile home runs in the NLDS, Taylor excelled with his glove all year, leading NL Center Fielders in Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) at 11.7 and making catches like this one:

 

Right Field

Finalists: Jason Heyward (CHC), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Yasiel Puig (LAD)

Winner: Yasiel Puig

by Max Smith

It doesn’t matter what advanced defensive stat you name, Yasiel Puig probably led National League Right Fielders in it. Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF)? Puig had 5.9, Hayward 1.7, and nobody else was even above 0. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)? Stanton’s 6.7 isn’t even close to the 12.1 Puig put up. And if fancy stats don’t do it for you, I urge you to simply rewatch this:

 

Pitcher

Finalists: RA Dickey (ATL), Zack Greinke (ARI), Zach Davies (MIL)

Winner: Zach Davies

by Max Smith

Defensive Stats for pitchers are somewhat of a crapshoot driven by tiny sample sizes. So let’s arbitrarily pick Zach Davies and back it up with some Minor League highlights:

 

Let’s see if we can go 18/18!

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