Who in the American League will win Gold Glove Awards in 2022? Every team hopes to have a strong defense to support its pitching staff, but only nine players in each league can lift a Gold Glove Award in a given year.
Catcher: Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics
Murphy won his first Gold Glove in 2021. He had a well-rounded statistical profile, finishing with 10 defensive runs saved, +3 total zone runs, and +9.7 runs from framing. According to Baseball Savant, Murphy was an 82nd-percentile framer. While the Athletics staff has been dismantled by management, Murphy will help the arms that remain with his game-calling. Murphy threw out 13 of 54 runners, ranking in the top five in the AL. His 24 percent caught stealing rate was above the Major League average.
First Base: Ty France, Seattle Mariners
France was robbed of the 2021 Gold Glove, but he should win his first this season. He played both second base and third base in 2021, but he should be the everyday first baseman for the Mariners in 2022. In 106 games at first base, France earned +4 total zone runs, +5 defensive runs saved, and +3.0 UZR. First base is loaded from a defensive standpoint in the American League, but France will be among the best again.
Second Base: Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
In his first season playing second base, Semien was one of the best defenders in baseball. He led the American League with 19 total zone runs with 18 coming at second base. He racked up 11 defensive runs saved at second base, and he posted a strong +6.3 UZR. For Baseball Savant, Semien was in the 90th percentile in outs above average. His +7 OAA at second base was among the league leaders. Despite moving teams, Semien will stay at second base with Corey Seager playing shortstop for the Rangers.
Third Base: Matt Chapman, Toronto Blue Jays
After a down year in 2020, Chapman is back on his legendary pace as a defensive player. He won his third Gold Glove with another statistical masterclass. Chapman posted +10 defensive runs saved, +8.7 UZR, and 17 OAA. He ranked in the 99th percentile in outs above average. Now north of the border, Chapman will help fortify a left side of the infield that had been one of the poorer units. He will not fix Bo Bichette, but he should be able to get enough balls to make Bichette’s job easier.
Shortstop: J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners
Crawford won the 2020 Gold Glove at shortstop before being overlooked in 2021. He kept up his masterful play, however. Crawford set a career-best in both defensive runs saved (+8) and dWAR (1.8). He also had +9 total zone runs. With the Mariners improving at other positions, they should make up a larger portion of the media coverage. This defeats the purpose of the Gold Glove, but it should help Crawford secure his second one in three seasons.
Left Field: Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals
Benintendi was a solid defender with the Boston Red Sox, but he became one of the best in baseball with the Royals. Continuing the legacy of Alex Gordon in left field, Benintendi won his first Gold Glove last season. He racked up +13 total zone runs and +7 defensive runs saved. According to Fangraphs, he posted +4.9 UZR. While he shares the outfield with another Gold Glover (Michael A. Taylor), Benintendi has shown more than enough to prove that he can win another Gold Glove.
Center Field: Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Buxton would almost certainly have more than one Gold Glove if he played more than 100 games in a season. Since winning the Gold Glove in 2017, Buxton has played just 215 games. However, he has +31 defensive runs saved in that span, a Herculean run of defensive form. In the last two seasons (100 games), he has +21. Last year, he posted +6.1 UZR, 94th-percentile outs above average, and +7 OAA. If he plays even 125 games, he should be a shoo-in to win his second Gold Glove despite heavy competition.
Right Field: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Judge fits much of the same criteria that Buxton does. He is an elite defensive player, but he is rarely on the field enough to be a logical pick. In 2021, he played 148 games and was once again among the best defensive outfielders. For his career, Judge averages +16 defensive runs saved per 162 games played. Last year, Judge was on pace for 22 total zone runs and 14 defensive runs saved in right field, but he only played 114 games (with some games at center field and designated hitter).
Pitcher: Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals
Greinke won six consecutive Gold Gloves from 2014 to 2019, but he has been shut out over the last two seasons. In 2021, Greinke earned +5 defensive runs and was competitive in yet another Gold Glove race. Now back in Kansas City, expect Greinke to re-establish his place as the premier defensive pitcher in the American League. He should have plenty of opportunities to field his position as his strikeout numbers dwindle. The former shortstop is a solid bet to win his seventh Gold Glove.
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