The Gold Glove finalists were announced yesterday, with the winners to be announced tonight. As Mark Sheldon reports, six Reds, the most of any team, are finalists this year: Arroyo, Bruce, Cozart, Phillips, Stubbs, and Votto.Phillips, Votto, and Arroyo are all previous Gold Glove winners, which is always a leg up, but I think most of the finalist-Reds have a fairly small chance of winning the award itself. Incidentally, the most GG awards on one team is four, which has been fairly often. Here’s the list, in the form of a sporcle quiz. On the list are four consecutive Big Red Machine teams, so, while unlikely, a big gold glove haul team would be an excellent return to form for the modern-day Reds.
By the numbers, UZR specifically, Joey Votto is the only one who was actually the most valuable defender in the NL at his position. However, I think Joey is going to be disadvantaged by the fact that he only played a little more than half a season. Still, if you like advanced defensive metrics (at least over any other indicator), Joey was worth more in his limited playing time than any other NL first baseman, even in a whole season, according to both UZR and DRS. I think he may have to combat the narrative power of Adam LaRoche, who played a full season with good defense, and was a pretty big part in leading the Nationals to the playoffs.
Brandon Phillips probably has the best chance, with 3 Gold Gloves under his belt already. His biggest challenge is probably Darwin Barney. Barney may have the perfect storm of fielding attributes. His UZR and DRS numbers are sky high this year, and even though defensive metrics are not particularly reliable in a 1 season sample (and he was only a little above average last season), that will probably sway some people. Plus, he had that whole error-less innings streak, which probably caught the attention of the more traditional voters. On the other hand, Barney was a terrible hitter on a terrible team, whereas Brandon was a decent hitter on a very strong team, which another trend in Gold Glove voting.
Zack Cozart, I think, might also have a decent chance. He’s got good UZR numbers, though he lags well behind Clint Barmes of the Pirates, and Brandon Crawford, who flashed the leather to great effect while winning the World Series – though they all have about the same Defensive Runs Scored. But, ah, neither of those two made the ‘finals’ , which includes Reyes, Desmond, and Rollins. Cozart has better numbers than any of those guy, but I don’t think there’s a clear favorite here at all.
As I’ve said before, I would be shocked if anyone but Mark Buehrle won the Pitcher’s Gold Glove this year. Seems like he deserves it too, as his DRS (there’s no UZR listed for pitchers), is well above anyone else’s – and based on number of plays and controlling baserunners, he just looks like a superlative defender (for a pitcher). My guess is that Bronson Arroyo‘s finalist appellation, is as much to recognize that he is a previous GG winner as anything else.
Bruce and Stubbs probably both have low chances. Neither of them have particularly excellent UZR/DRS/fielding % numbers. Mostly, it’s nice to have a little bit of recognition for Drew Stubbs‘ fantastic range, and Jay Bruce‘s powerful arm. It might be fun to see whether the whole Braves outfield will go ahead and get the award, though – Bourn, Prado, and Heyward were all spectacular.
As far as snubs, which I love to complain about, I could wish that Hanigan and Cueto got some recognition. Hanigan’s got excellent defensive skills, all across the spectrum of catching responsibilities. As much as I hate to admit it, Molina probably will, and deserves to win, but it would be nice to have Hanigan’s name up there in consideration. I imagine Hanigan’s comparatively limited playing time has something to do with it. Cueto, of course, also has excellent defensive numbers. He makes as many plays as anyone who isn’t Mark Buehrle, and he’s got the best right-handed pickoff move in the MLB, hands down. On the other hand, he does make more errors, than say, Bronson. But, as with all fielding positions, that’s partially related to making more plays. Cueto was involved with 16 more successful outs than Bronson, and make five more errors. Again though, these are small issues, as the likely winners of these awards probably deserve them.
EDIT: So, I apologize for the first draft of this, which happened when I had no internet, and apparently, thought it was two years ago. I’ve made things marginally less dumb now.