2021 American League: Gold Glove Predictions

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With Opening Day around the corner, every team hopes to play strong defense to help its pitching out. Only nine players in each league can lift a Gold Glove in a given year.

Who in the American League will win Gold Gloves?

Defensive Stats Key:

TZR – Total Zone Rating (Baseball-Reference)

DRS – Defensive Runs Saved (Baseball-Reference)

TRS – Total Runs Saved (Fielding Bible, Fangraphs)

UZR – Ultimate Zone Rating (Fangraphs)

OAA – Outs Above Average (Baseball Savant)

2021 American League Gold Glove Winners:

Zack Greinke, Houston Astros

2020 Stats: +1 DRS, +1 TRS

Since the introduction of total runs saved in 2003, Zack Greinke ranks second among all pitchers with +79 TRS. He has been a consistent fielder, earning six straight Gold Gloves in the National League. Back in the American League, expect Greinke to be one of the better fielding pitchers yet again, and he could earn his seventh Gold Glove. Greinke was the Willson Defensive Pitcher of the Year in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Additionally, Greinke was the 2018 and 2019 Fielding Bible recipient for pitchers.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2014-2019 (NL)

Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians

2020 Stats: +4 Fielding Runs, +7 TZR, +6 DRS, +6 TRS

When one factor in the innings that the likes of Buster Posey and Yadier Molina have played, Roberto Perez is unearthed as the premier defensive catcher since 2003. Perez averaged +1 TRS per 45.8 innings played. His closest contemporary (Austin Hedges) averages +1 TRS per 56.3 innings played. Perez should yet again be acknowledged as the best defensive catcher in the 2021 American League. In 2019, Perez was named as the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year. Perez has won the last two Fielding Bible Awards among catchers.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2019-2020 (AL)

Evan White, Seattle Mariners

2020 Stats: +7 Fielding Runs, +5 TZR, +7 DRS, +7 TRS, +2.2 UZR, +6 OAA

Evan White had a terrific rookie season, leading all first basemen in OAA and TRS. With the positional adjustments in dWAR, it can be difficult for first basemen to post a position dWAR, but White’s 0.4 stands out. He was second in TZR, and he should be a Gold Glove contender for the next decade.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2020 (AL)

Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals

2020 Stats: +7 Fielding Runs, -2 TZR, -2 DRS, +9 TRS, -0.3 UZR, +7 OAA

Nicky Lopez‘s 2020 stats paint a mixed story as he finished with negative TZR and DRS while leading MLB in TRS and OAA. Lopez has stiff competition with Enrique Hernandez and Cesar Hernandez in the 2021 American League, but he could fend them off and secure a Gold Glove for the Kansas City Royals.

Previous Gold Gloves? No

Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

2020 Stats: +3 Fielding Runs, -1 TZR, +1 DRS, +2 TRS, +3.5 UZR, +2 OAA

Matt Chapman has been a dominant force as a defensive third baseman. He led the AL in dWAR in 2018 and 2019, winning the AL Platinum Glove in both seasons. He was the 2018 Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year and has been the third base representative in 2018 and 2019. Both his 2018 and 2019 seasons were honored with Fielding Bible Awards. His 2020 was marred with injury, but expect Chapman to flash the leather once again in 2021.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2018-2019 (AL)

Andrelton Simmons, Minnesota Twins

2020 Stats: -2 Fielding Runs, +0 TZR, -2 DRS, -2 TRS, +0.8 UZR, -1 OAA

While Andrelton Simmons did not post his usual gaudy defensive stats, part of that can be explained by missing half of the season. Now with the Minnesota Twins, Simmons projects to return to being an elite fielder. Since the introduction of the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards, Simmons has been the shortstop nominee in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. He was the Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. He also won the 2013 NL Platinum Glove. Simmons owns six shortstops Fielding Bible Awards.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2013-2014 (NL), 2017-2018 (AL)

Michael Brantley, Houston Astros

2020 Stats: +4 Fielding Runs, +4 TZR, +4 DRS, +4 TRS, +4.3 UZR, +1 OAA

While Michael Brantley has never received any recognition for his defense (he has never deserved any), he had a strong 2020 in left field with the Houston Astros. It could be an aberration as he has a pair of -15 or worse TZR seasons to his name, but the 2020 stats speak for themselves. Brantley ranked among the league leaders in defensive stats despite playing just 19 games in left.

Previous Gold Gloves? No

Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

2020 Stats: +8 Fielding Runs, +6 TZR, +8 DRS, +8 TRS, +2.6 UZR, +10 OAA

Luis Robert had a spectacular defensive season as a rookie. His +10 OAA ranked first among all American Leaguers. He had an impressive 1.0 dWAR in 2020, ranking sixth in the AL. Just 23, Robert should be a perennial Gold Glove candidate, and he has Platinum Glove upside.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2020 (AL)

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

2020 Stats: +3 Fielding Runs, +0 TZR, +3 DRS, +3 TRS, +2.3 UZR, +0 OAA

While most know about Aaron Judge‘s presence in the batter’s box, only Mookie Betts patrols right field like Judge does. With Betts now in the National League, expect Judge to vacuum up Gold Gloves when he is healthy. Judge was the right field Wilson Defensive Player of the Year (over Betts, no less) in 2019. Despite playing right field, a position with a negative positional value, Judge has posted a positive dWAR in all four of his full seasons. Since 2017, he ranks third among all outfielders in TRS. Expect Judge to capture the 2021 American League Gold Glove in right field.

Previous Gold Gloves? No

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.