Four Players Snubbed of Gold Glove Nominations

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With Rawlings releasing the Gold Glove nominees today (found here) Twitter was notedly a flurry with predictions about who would win, and who was snubbed. And to be honest, there were certainly a few snubs. Two stand out in each league, with a Catcher, First Baseman, Outfielder and Pitcher not getting the love they deserve.

It is tough to get it right with so many elite defensive players in the MLB, but some players deserve recognition where it was not granted by those that do the official voting. Defensive metrics are rather fickle, with defensive outcomes tending to be a more organic process much less quantifiable than offensive output, but OAA (outs above average) and DRS (defensive runs saved) are the most effective of the bunch. Those statistics primarily serve to determine the value of players in the field, but for those behind the plate, catching has its whole own set of statistics that we’ll dabble in. As for all of those snubbed, these four players got it the worst

American League First Base: Ty France

The 1B race in the AL takes place solely in the AL West. The actual nominees were the Angels’ Jared Walsh, the Athletics’ Matt Olson, and Yuli Gurriel of the Astros. What Rawlings seemed to miss is that Ty France of the Seattle Mariners had a significantly better season defensively than Jared Walsh, and it could be argued that the Mariner had a better season than Gurriel as well. By both major defensive metrics France laps Walsh, it isn’t even competitive. When it comes to OAA, France’s total of 1 places him second in this group of four AL West Corner infielders, with Gurriel at -1 and Walsh at a remarkably bad -5, tied for third-worst among all qualified first basemen.

DRS essentially tells the same story, with France this time tied with Gurriel for second amongst the bunch. Matt Olson sits at 6 DRS, France and Gurriel at 5, and bringing up the rear (again) is Walsh at -2. When it comes to more basic stats, France is first in fielding percentage among all 1B with over 900 innings at the corner spot this year with an impressive .999%. In that same group, France also has the least amount of errors, with one. Keep in mind that France is not at all a natural first baseman, and learned the spot on the fly after the season-ending injury to last years’ gold glove winner at 1B Evan White. The lone knock against France is the 100 fewer innings he’s played at the spot as compared to his contemporaries, but by all indications he more than deserves consideration as a top-three defensive 1B in the AL.

Other Nominees: Jared Walsh, Matt Olson, Yuli Gurriel


National League Catcher: Omar Narvaez

The case for Brewers Catcher Omar Narvaez is an interesting one. To determine whether or not you think Narvaez was slighted, you have to determine what skills you value in a catcher. If you’re looking for a backstop that throws runners out on steal attempts as your main indicator for defensive value, Narvaez is admittedly not your guy.

With a 22% CS rate, Narvaez places ahead of nominee Jacob Stallings of the Pirates by 1%, but trails the Phillies J.T. Realmuto as well as Cardinals legend Yadier Molina by larger margins. DRS is a different story, with Narvaez once more in third out of the four names, this time beating out Realmuto for the bronze medal while Stallings finished with a number eight times as high as Narvaez. (3 to 21)

Where Narvaez shines is framing. According to Baseball Savants’ Catcher Framing Leaderboard, Naravez is the absolute top in the league in that regard. Narvaez helped an already elite group of pitchers in Milwaukee look even better, producing a 49.2% strike rate on non-swing pitches that places him in the top-10 among catchers who called at least 2000 pitches. He led the league in RES (Runs extra strikes) a stat that converts those called strikes to runs saved on a .125 run/strike basis while also factoring in adjustments for park and pitcher. Narvaez was masterful at nicking an extra strike here and there, especially effective when it came to lateral framing. When it comes to comparative talent in the framing category, Narvaez wins gold while Realmuto is 10th, Stallings is 13th, and Molina is 32nd. It begs the question, what makes a catcher elite defensively? The opportunity to steal strikes and frames occurs much more often than the opportunity to throw out runners on the base paths, and for that reason Narvaez deserves consideration.

Other Nominees: Jacob Stallings, J.T. Realmuto, Yadier Molina


American League Right Field: Adolis Garcia

If a position was irrelevant, Adolis Garcia would have almost certainly been nominated for a Gold Glove. However, position matters, and Garcia was excluded. While Garcia did only play about one-third of the season in right field, he was the best defensive player at the position in either league. His +13 defensive runs saved ranked first in MLB among right fielders.

But he only played about 50 games, right?

Yes, that’s correct. However, Adam Duvall played just 89 more innings and was nominated for the National League. Either both Duvall and Garcia should be honored or neither should be honored. Even the MLB.com article that announced the finalists mentioned Garcia twice in the right field blurb. Thank you for having a brain, David Adler.

Other Nominees: Hunter Renfroe, Joey Gallo, Kyle Tucker


National League Pitcher: Taijuan Walker

At least with Garcia, there is an innings played argument. Taijuan Walker has no such barrier to entry because he threw more innings than Zach Davies. Across 159 innings pitched, Walker racked up +7 defensive runs saved, leading the NL. This is not to say that the other nominees are not deserving (Max Fried and Davies had +6 DRS, Zack Wheeler had +5), but it is asking the criteria to be logical. The nominees had good defensive seasons, but Walker was a tick better.

On the bright side, the American League seemed to get it right. Dallas Keuchel was the obvious No.1 nominee, but they also took two of the three other pitchers with +5 DRS. Jose Berrios and Zack Greinke were nominated while Chris Flexen wallows. Flexen was mentioned in the MLB.com article, but Walker was not name-dropped. However, Adler did say that Fried and Davies finished second with Wheeler just behind, shrouding the real answer in secrecy.

Other Nominees: Max Fried, Zack Wheeler, Zach Davies


Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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