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MLB Awards: Predicting the 2022 AL Gold Gloves

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Finalists have been announced for MLB’s highest defensive honor: Gold Gloves. There are 10 spots available in both leagues. Let’s predict who will take home the AL Gold Gloves in this MLB Awards cycle.

Defensive Stats Key:

TZR – Total Zone Rating (Baseball-Reference)

DRS – Defensive Runs Saved (Baseball-Reference)

Def – Defensive WAR Component (Fangraphs)

UZR – Ultimate Zone Rating (Fangraphs)

OAA – Outs Above Average (Baseball Savant)

2022 AL Gold Gloves:

Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians

Bieber was a top defensive pitcher the whole season. He led the American League in range factor per game, and his +3 DRS was tied for second among AL pitchers. It helps that he was one of few pitchers to throw 200 innings, but he maintained his high level of defensive play across those innings.

Other Finalists: Jose Berrios, Toronto Blue Jays; Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees

Catcher: Jose Trevino, New York Yankees

Trevino, one of a handful on Yankees AL Gold Glove nominees, had a dominant all-around season catching games for the Yankees. He tied for the best caught-stealing percentage in the AL, nailing 33.3% of would-be base stealers. He racked up +7 TZR, +21 DRS, +19 Fangraphs framing runs, +29.1 Def, and +16 Baseball Savant framing runs. The first-time All-Star is one of the easier picks of the bunch in this MLB awards cycle.

Other Finalists: Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners; Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics

First Base: Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins

Unlike the cut-and-dry NL first base race, Arraez narrowly edges out an average cast of AL defensive first basemen. The likes of Ryan Mountcastle, Josh Naylor, and Carlos Santana had solid defensive metrics, but they were passed over. Arraez only played 529 innings at first base (equivalent to 58.8 games), but he is the best option. He had +1 OAA, +5 TZR, and +4 DRS.

Other Finalists: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays; Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees

Second Base: Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers

Depending on the defensive stat used, Schoop was either the best defensive player in baseball and deserving one of the AL Gold Gloves, or just a good defensive second baseman. He led all players in OAA, racking up +27. He more than doubled all other second basemen in Fangraphs’ Def rating as well. He finished tied for second in the AL in TZR, and he had a healthy +8 DRS.

Other Finalists: Andres Gimenez, Cleveland Guardians; Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers

Third Base: Ramon Urias, Baltimore Orioles

Instead of a close vote between Urias and Josh Donaldson, Urias should coast to an easy win as Donaldson was not named as a finalist in this MLB awards cycle. Urias and Donaldson tied for the AL lead in OAA, and Urias led in Def, DRS, and TZR. Urias might not set any records for defensive excellence like his NL compatriots, but he should win the Gold Glove.

Other Finalists: Matt Chapman, Toronto Blue Jays; Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians

Shortstop: Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros

The Orioles fall on the wrong side of the finalist curse here as shoo-in favorite Jorge Mateo was inexplicably left off the ballot. Among AL shortstops, Pena finished third in OAA, second in Def, first in DRS, and third in TZR. Shortstop is another National League-heavy position defensively, but Pena is the best of the AL finalists and this should be his first of many MLB awards.

Other Finalists: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox; Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins

Left Field: Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians

Kwan, another Cleveland Guardian AL Gold Glove nominee, sweeps the field here. He led all left fielders in OAA (+12), Def (+4.7), DRS (+21), and TZR (+20). The rookie sensation spent some time in both center and right field, but he settled in to play over 1,000 innings in left field. He contributed with seven outfield assists from left field, making only two errors on 233 chances.

Other Finalists: Andrew Benintendi, Two Teams; Brandon Marsh, Los Angeles Angels

Center Field: Myles Straw, Cleveland Guardians

In perhaps the closest race in the AL, Straw gets the nod here. Among AL center fielders, he was second in OAA (Jose Siri), first in Def, and first in TZR. The likes of Byron Buxton, Siri, Cristian Pache, and Julio Rodriguez had strong defensive seasons, but this race was hyper-competitive.

Other Finalists: Michael A. Taylor, Kansas City Royals; Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles

Right Field: Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins

Kepler posted an excellent defensive season in Minnesota. He led AL right fielders in TZR, Def, and OAA. He was one of two right fielders in all of baseball to cross the +10 OAA threshold, posting a 91% success rate on plays in the outfield. Kepler was steady the entire season, and he should win the Gold Glove.

Other Finalists: Jackie Bradley Jr., Two Teams; Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

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Utility: DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

If this ballot were to occur in the actual voting, LeMahieu would be the only repeat winner. While a member of the Colorado Rockies, LeMahieu won three Gold Gloves as a primary second baseman. This season, LeMahieu split time between first (35 games), second (41 games), and third (47 games).

Had he stuck at first or second more often, Donaldson likely would have walked away with the Gold Glove at third base. Either way, LeMahieu posted +9 OAA across the three positions. His +15 TZR was tied for second among all American Leaguers (Kwan). He also had +8 DRS. It’s probably time the MLB awards were expanded a little.

Other Finalists: Whit Merrifield, Two Teams; Luis Rengifo, Los Angeles Angels

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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.