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2021 National 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 National 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 National League Gold Glove Winners:

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves

2020 Stats: +5 DRS, +5 TRS

The 2020 Gold Glove winner will look to replicate his success in 2021. Max Fried has led the National League in assists in each of the last two seasons, and he has been a slick fielder while doing it. Fried has +11 defensive runs saved in the last two seasons. Fielding Bible named Fried the best defensive pitcher in 2020.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2020 (NL)

Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates

2020 Stats: +5 Fielding Runs, +2 TZR, +7 DRS, +7 TRS

He has yet to win a Gold Glove, but Jacob Stallings has been one of baseball’s best defensive catchers over the last two seasons. He has +16 fielding runs and a +2.2 dWAR over the last two seasons, just 103 games of action. If Stallings is the everyday catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, expect Stallings to post the best defensive metrics in the National League and contend for the Gold Glove.

Previous Gold Gloves? No

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

2020 Stats: +4 Fielding Runs, +6 TZR, +4 DRS, +4 TRS, +3.9 UZR, +3 OAA

Owner of some serious defensive hardware, Anthony Rizzo has won the last three Gold Gloves for National League first basemen, adding another award in 2016. He was the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at first base in 2016. The 2016 Fielding Bible Award-winner at first base, Rizzo is the only first basemen in either league to win the Platinum Glove (2016, NL).

Previous Gold Gloves? 2016, 2018-2020 (NL)

Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers

2020 Stats: +5 Fielding Runs, +7 TZR, +5 DRS, +5 TRS, +3.8 UZR, +3 OAA

Now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kolten Wong will look to bring his slick fielding up the road from his former stomping grounds with the St. Louis Cardinals. Wong is a decorated fielder, earning a trio of Fielding Bible Awards, a pair of Gold Gloves, and the 2019 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at second base. Wong has led NL second basemen in TZR each of the last two seasons.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2019-2020 (NL)

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

2020 Stats: +13 Fielding Runs, +9 TZR, +13 DRS, +13 TRS, +8.5 UZR, +7 OAA

From a former Cardinal to a current Cardinal, Nolan Arenado might be the best defensive third basemen in MLB history. Arenado has won the last eight Gold Gloves. His basic and advanced metrics tell the story of a superstar. He has led the NL in range factor per game at third base in the last eight seasons. He has led the NL in double plays turned at third six times, total zone runs at third thrice, assists at third five times, and putouts at third four times. In 2019, he led the entire National League in TZR.

Arenado owns three Wilson Defensive Player of the Year nods at third base, a quartet of Platinum Gloves, and a quartet of Fielding Bible Awards.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2013-2020 NL

Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

2020 Stats: +0 Fielding Runs, -3 TZR, +0 DRS, +0 TRS, +0.9 UZR, +9 OAA

While he is known for his bat flips and relatable personality, Fernando Tatis Jr. led all infielders in OAA in 2020. His other metrics paint the picture of an average defensive player (and his three early-season errors might seem like a slow start), but Tatis is a terrific defensive shortstop. He has new competition in New York’s Francisco Lindor to go with 2020 Gold Glover Javier Baez, but this is the year that Tatis all break through and win his first Gold Glove.

Previous Gold Gloves? No

Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals

2020 Stats: +9 Fielding Runs, +10 TZR, +9 DRS, +9 TRS, +5.7 UZR, +4 OAA

Another Cardinal, Tyler O’Neill led all left fielders in OAA en route to his first Gold Glove. Left field is not the sexiest defensive position, but O’Neill defends it as well as anyone, especially with the retirement of Alex Gordon. O’Neill earned the Fielding Bible Award in left field, and he could be the first player to repeat with the honor since 2015-2016 Starling Marte.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2020 (NL)

Trent Grisham, San Diego Padres

2020 Stats: +7 Fielding Runs, +9 TZR, +7 DRS, +7 TRS, +7.5 UZR, +7 OAA

Perhaps the most difficult decision on the entire list, Trent Grisham is poised to repeat. He has stiff competition with the likes of Cody Bellinger, Lorenzo Cain, and Cristian Pache, but Grisham has been every bit as good as his competitors. Grisham led NL center fielders in TZR and putouts in 2020, and expect him to replicate it in 2021. Not bad for a player that was seen as an average to below-average defensive player when he was a prospect.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2020 (NL)

Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

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

The modern day Roberto Clemente, Mookie Betts is the easiest selection on the list. Since moving to right field in 2016, Betts has ran away with five consecutive Gold Gloves. Betts has led his league’s right fielders in TZR in three of the last four seasons. He was Wilson’s Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, going with a pair of position-specific awards. Betts has won four of the last five Fielding Bible Awards, the most by a right fielder, and a mark only topped by Albert Pujols, Andrelton Simmons, and Yadier Molina among all positions. Not bad company.

Previous Gold Gloves? 2016-2019 (AL), 2020 (NL)


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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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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.

1 comment

  • Turbo says:

    I am biased as Northern California kid. Even despite that there is no way Brandon Belt is not on that list.

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