This morning, Rawlings Sports announced via twitter their finalists for the 2013 Gold Glove Awards. The selection method appears to be changing – hopefully for the better – over past years, as data from SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research; twitter: @SABR) provided information to the voters – the managers and players. Three finalists are announced for each position in each league.
We’ve chronicled through the season just how well Simmons has manned his athletically-demanding position in 2013 – with historic numbers to prove it. Seemingly every week, he did something that was GIF-worthy. So it’s fitting that we look at a couple:
Well, heck, somebody put together a whole list of them: click here and enjoy.
If there was ever a mortal lock on this award, if should be this year, this position: it will be a total upset if Simba doesn’t get it. Oh, I almost forgot: Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond are also going to be on that ballot.
Now this one may be a bit more of a nail-biter. Jason won the award for 2012, but there’s reasons that he might not repeat for 2013. The reason? 697.2 innings in RF this year – and he finished 2013 in Center Field. He was doing well again in RF (no errors; 15 Defensive Runs Saved [DRS] vs. 20 in almost twice the innings in 2012; UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating)/150 numbers are essentially the same), but he was out for close to half the year.
Jay Bruce logged 1438.2 innings in RF this year: UZR/150 of 10.1, 18 DRS, 3 errors. By those numbers, this was probably the best season he’s had defensively – UZR doesn’t really like him that much, though his Range rating (RZR was .968 – besting Jason’s .947).
Parra bounced around the outfield in 2013 himself: 41 innings in LF, 272 in Center; 1042 in RF. He was better on the corners, though committed no errors in any of them. His DRS for RF was 23 and UZR/150 was 32.3 with a Range rating that matched Jason’s .947. Just based on those numbers alone, you’d probably have to give the nod to Parra. However, that’s not the only criteria, and the voters (players and managers) tend to consider other factors – offense and prior defensive reputation definitely included. I would rate this as a coin-flip contest between Heyward and Parra.
Wait a Second… no Freddie?
In short: defensive metrics loathe Freddie Freeman. It’s a range thing. Among qualifiers, he doesn’t have the worst range rating, but he’s fifth and that drags down his overall rating. He also tied for the National League worst with 8 fielding errors. His throwing errors were low (2), but the fielding errors honestly matter a bit more.
Freddie was credited with 55 “scoops” at first base – obviously a highlight of his defensive abilities, but Godschmidt had a crazy-high number: 74 this year (Freddie was second with 10% fewer innings).
In terms of the UZR numbers: Rizzo was #1, Brandon Belt second, AGonz 3rd, Goldschmidt 4th, and Freddie 5th. Belt seems at first glance to be a finalist snub as well, but he had a lot fewer chances at first base this year – and fewer innings.
Hard to tell who wins this race – there’s good reasons to call it for any of the finalists: Gonzalez based on reputation, Rizzo on the numbers alone, and Goldschmidt when adding the offense. West coast voters could split on the LA/AZ players and give the glove to Rizzo. I’m going to guess that Goldschmidt gets it anyway.
Winners of the awards will be announced next Tuesday evening – October 29 – in an event sponsored by American Airlines… kind of a ‘recursive’ sponsorship of the Rawlings award. Welcome to America: what a country!