2018 Gold Glove Predictions

Defensive sabermetrics might be a notoriously imperfect science that lag behind their offensive counterparts, but that doesn’t mean throwing together some stats, some videos, and some passionate M-SABR writers won’t result in an excellent Gold Glove Preview. Stay tuned for plenty of awards coverage on the site going forward, but giving some of baseball’s best glove artists some recognition is a great way to start!
Without further ado, our M-SABR Gold Glove winners:

American League

Catcher

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

Winner: Martin Maldonado

by Sahil Shah

A midseason deal to the Astros did nothing to slow down Maldonado’s fantastic defensive season, as he allowed the fewest stolen bases in baseball (18) despite catching more innings than the other two finalists. In addition, he posted one of the top fielding percentages of all AL catchers (.996). Given the innings advantage and the ability to maintain his strong numbers with two teams, Maldonado is my favorite for the Gold Glove.

First Base

Finalists: Mitch Moreland (BOS), Matt Olson (OAK), Justin Smoak (TOR)

Winner: Matt Olson

by Ruthvik Avvari

The AL Gold Glove Award race for First Base isn’t a close one. That’s putting it mildly. Olson led the league at the position at both DRS and UZR, and by a big margin too. He had 14 Defensive Runs Saved, and second in that category was Yonder Alonso of the Indians with 4. He also dominated UZR with an 11.6 rating, and second was Ronald Guzman of the Rangers with 3.7. This should be unanimous this year. If you need more proof, watch the amazing pick below.

Second Base

Finalists: Jed Lowrie (OAK), Ian Kinsler (LAA/BOS), Rougned Odor (TEX)

Winner: Ian Kinsler

by Cam Cain

Forget about his costly error in Game 3 of the World Series, Kinsler was a tremendous defender in 2018. His 9.4 UZR/150 was the best among all second basemen with 800 innings, and his 10 DRS was tied with Odor. There’s a reason Kinsler was brought into the game in a tight situation like that. Expect him to win his second gold glove in three years.

Shortstop

Finalists: Francisco Lindor (CLE), Marcus Semien (OAK), Andrelton Simmons (LAA)

Winner: Francisco Lindor

by Max Smith

Are we a sabermetrics club? Yes. Are numbers everything? No. So, sure, Andrelton Simmons has a 19.7 UZR and that laps the rest of the AL shortstop field and doubles up anybody not named Francisco Lindor (14.1 UZR), but when he makes plays like this, he doesn’t flash a smile like this:

dly

And it’s not like Lindor is some sort of a slouch with the glove either.

The Indians might have disappointed in 2018, but Lindor never does. He deserves a Gold Glove even if Simmons probably does too.

Third Base

Finalists: Alex Bregman (HOU), Jose Ramirez (CLE), Matt Chapman (OAK)

Winner: Matt Chapman

by Matthew Schneider

Matt Chapman was the best fielder in all of baseball in 2018, he had 29 defensive runs saved, eight more than anyone else. However, Chapman might get hurt by his twenty errors, tied for third most in baseball. His competitors, Alex Bregman and Jose Ramirez, are not known for their defense, but they are big names that could steal away the award.

Left Field

Finalists: Andrew Benintendi (BOS), Brett Gardner (NYY), Alex Gordon (KC)

Winner: Alex Gordon

by Cam Cain

Gordon has already won 5 gold gloves in his career, and for good reason. Since he joined the league in 2007, only Gardner and Jason Heyward have more Defensive Runs Saved among outfielders. This season, his 18 DRS and 13.1 UZR were tops among AL left fielders by a mile. Also, according to Statcast, Gordon was 2 outs above average in the outfield, compared to Gardner’s 0 and Benintendi’s -2.

Center Field

Finalists: Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS), Adam Engel (CHW), Mike Trout (LAA)

Winner: Mike Trout

by Matthew Kikkert

Despite strong competition from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Adam Engel, each of whom had fantastic defensive seasons in their own right, I have to choose Mr. Reliable, Mike Trout. In the days of Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Outs Above Average (OAA), Mike Trout managed to go through an entire grueling season with ZERO errors. Playing center field, that’s no easy task. And in the advanced stats, he’s not too shabby either, leading the three candidates in DRS at 8 and a respectable OAA of 8 as well.

Right Field

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

Winner: Mookie Betts

by Matthew Schneider

Mookie Betts had an incredible 2018. He led all right fielders with 20 defensive runs saved (DRS) and an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 15, both of which were significantly higher than any other right fielder. Aaron Judge is the only other player who comes anywhere near as good a fielder as Betts. Judge had a 14 DRS and 8.4 UZR. Betts was dominant in every aspect of baseball in 2018 and deserves this award more than anyone else.

Pitcher

Finalists: Corey Kluber (CLE), Dallas Keuchel (HOU), Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)

Winner: Corey Kluber

by Sahil Shah

All three starters had a fantastic season for their respective teams, earning a trip to the playoffs. Kluber and Kuechel both managed perfect fielding percentages, but I’ll give the edge to Kluber for maintaining his fielding percentage while pitching the most innings in the American League.

National League

Catcher

Finalists: Yadier Molina (STL), Manny Piña (MIL), Buster Posey (SF)

Winner: Manny Piña

by Ruthvik Avvari

Although Posey only played 105 games this year, he had a higher DRS (10) than Molina (-1) and Piña (6). Molina’s subpar DRS has him out of the running, and between Piña and Posey, Piña caught more players stealing bases (20 of 49) than Posey (17 of 59) and had more assists (45 vs 37) along with more putouts (720 vs 677). He also did this in 16 less innings. My vote goes to Manny Piña.

First Base

Finalists: Freddie Freeman (ATL), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Joey Votto (CIN)

Winner: Freddie Freeman

by Sahil Shah

This one should be a slam dunk. Freeman is atop the National League leaderboard in many first baseman defensive categories, including UZR/150 (8.2) and defensive runs saved (12), and only trails Matt Olson for the major league lead. Already widely known for being one of the premier hitters in baseball, Freeman’s strong defense should not be overlooked.

Second Base

Finalists: Javier Baez (CHC), DJ LeMahieu (COL), Kolten Wong (STL)

Winner: Javier Baez

by Matthew Kikkert

From a purely statistical standpoint, Kolten Wong and D.J. LeMahieu had terrific defensive seasons. They far and away had the most defensive runs saved and had very few errors, but I am still awarding the Gold Glove to Javier Baez. After watching an eight-minute defensive highlight reel for Baez from the 2018 season, what stood out was Baez’s ability to make phenomenal plays at every infield position. He is versatile and gives Joe Maddon the ability to put him at third, second, or shortstop on any given night, and be counted on as a defensive wizard.

Shortstop

Finalists: Nick Ahmed (ARI), Brandon Crawford (SF), Freddy Galvis (SD)

Winner: Nick Ahmed

by Cam Cain

All three finalists come from the NL West, but Ahmed was the best fielder out of all of them. His 21 DRS was first among NL shortstops. His 4.6 UZR was fourth best, but Crawford and Galvis actually had negative ratings. Nick Ahmed should be the clear frontrunner for this award.

Third Base

Finalists: Nolan Arenado (COL), Anthony Rendon (WAS), Travis Shaw (MIL)

Winner: Anthony Rendon

by Max Smith

If the NL’s best player in recent years continues to go unrewarded offensively because of guys like Nolan Arenado or Christian Yelich and their flashy numbers, it’s time to at least recognize Anthony Rendon for the incredible work he puts in at the hot corner. His 5.9 UZR barely edged out Arenado’s 5.8 so the numbers agree, but no numbers are needed to appreciate plays like this:

So let’s give this man the Gold Glove, and maybe next year let’s give this man some credit when he quietly replicates another .308/.374/.535 season with a 140 wRC+, 6.3 fWAR and shockingly sparse coverage.

Left Field

Finalists: Corey Dickerson (PIT), Adam Duvall (CIN/ATL), Christian Yelich (MIL)

Winner: Corey Dickerson

by Max Brill

Dickerson, after spending a year as a designated hitter for Tampa Bay, was forced to play the field after a trade to the Pirates. He made the Pirates look like geniuses by posting the best OAA (outs above average) of any LF in all of baseball. The other two nominees for gold glove in the NL were simply not as good as Dickerson in 2018—Yelich was fine but not great and Duvall was a part-time player after moving to the Braves at the trade deadline, so there’s no realistic way he could have contributed more defensive value than Dickerson over the course of the season. Corey gets the nod.

Center Field

Finalists: Lorenzo Cain (MIL), Billy Hamilton (CIN), Ender Inciarte (ATL)

Winner: Ender Inciarte

by Max Brill

I think the National League CF gold glove race is the closest of any race in baseball. Any of Ender Inciarte, Lorenzo Cain, and Billy Hamilton could win the award and each of the three has a legitimate case for the award. Inciarte, Cain, and Hamilton are second, third, and fifth, respectively, in outs above average, a statistic that aggregates catch probability added by an outfielder over the course of the season and sums it up in one number. And in case that doesn’t make sense to you, just believe me when I say that Inciarte, Cain, and Hamilton are really good. I think Inciarte walks around with the hardware, though, mostly because of his reputation. He has won each of the last two gold gloves in the National League for centerfielders, and I think everyone understands that he is the best centerfielder on the senior circuit.

Right Field

Finalists: Jason Heyward (CHC), Jon Jay (ARI), Nick Markakis (ATL)

Winner: Jason Heyward

by Max Brill

Will Cubs fans will be able to forget about the fact that they gave Jason Heyward one of the worst contracts in all of baseball if he brings home a gold glove? The answer is no. What about three in a row? The answer is still no, but that doesn’t change the fact that Heyward is a great defender and deserves his sixth gold glove in nine seasons in the bigs.

Pitcher

Finalists: Zack Greinke (ARI), Clayton Richard (SD), Julio Teheran (ATL)

Winner: Zack Greinke

by Cam Cain

Greinke truly can do it all. He’s won a Cy Young, a Silver Slugger, and this year should win his fifth consecutive Gold Glove award. Greinke was tied with Teheran this year with 7 DRS, most among NL pitchers. He also went the entire season without making an error and allowed just two stolen bases, a stat that is even more impressive given that he stole three bases this season. Grienke is the best fielding pitcher in baseball, and he will be rewarded for it once again.



Categories: Articles

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: