The Rawlings’ Gold Glove finalists were announced yesterday… with lots of representation for the defensively-minded Braves. Except for one.
I really don’t get it. Every year, it seems that the Gold Glove awards provide something to complain about. For a while, yesterday, it seemed that the Atlanta Braves might have reasons to celebrate – that for once, the finalists had been selected correctly. But no.
After all, there was purpose here: Alex Anthopoulos wanted to emphasize defense in 2018. The Braves players actually worked on improving this throughout the year (big props to Ron Washington especially for this).
So as the finalists were announced yesterday – position by position – we saw recognition for a team ranking 3rd in the National League defensively. (by fangraphs’ reckoning)…
- 1st base – Freddie Freeman
- Pitcher – Julio Teheran
- Left Field – Adam Duvall (yeah, really!)
- Center Field – Ender Inciarte
- Right Field – Nick Markakis
But this happened too…
Notice Anything Missing?
Yeah – only the player on the Braves’ roster with the BEST single defensive score that fangraphs came up with…(11.3). Even Ender Inciarte “only” had a 9.5.
Dansby Swanson. Arguably the best fielder Atlanta put onto the field in 2018… and no finalist tag.
All right… okay…. this is a ‘National League’ award, not a Braves award, so Swanson still needs to be better than his peers… I get that. So let’s check those numbers.
Hmmm…. only one of those 3 guys got the ‘finalist’ tag. How about their UZR/150 scores, then?
- DeJong (9.3)
- Swanson (5.9)
- Ahmed (5.5)
Okay… the same. Defensive Runs Saved, perhaps?
- Ahmed (21)
- DeJong (14)
- Addison Russell (a guy who isn’t getting any awards right now; 13)
- Swanson (10)
‘Errors’ is kind of like looking strictly at “Wins” for a pitcher, though… has a little to do with how good they are, but doesn’t remotely tell the whole story – like whether the player even gets to a ball to make a play on it.
Even so, error counts don’t work: Brandon Crawford didn’t make the top 3 (he was tied for 8th with 16 errors).
We’re getting desperate now… How about simply innings played???
That’s a terrible metric to use, but we’re truly getting desperate here. There are 11 qualified shortstops in the NL and using the fangraphs numbers, the “finalists” rank 3rd, 6th, and 10th.
Yeah – 10th out of 11 for Freddy Galvis.
Rockies’ fans had visions that Trevor Story might get the Gold Glove nod this year, which means they were factoring offensive performance into the equation.
I can’t blame them for thinking that since that has been a common criticism for these “defensive” awards over the years. But at least his ranking is 7th overall.
Trying to Make Sense of This
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Was there an artificial cut off in terms of innings played? Swanson had 1166 at the position (8th among batting qualifiers at SS) and DeJong 1005… but Ahmed and Crawford were at 1240 and 1259 – also on the light end – while the minimum qualifier at shortstop was Pittsburgh’s Jody Mercer with 996 innings at shortstop.
But if that were the discriminator, then Trea Turner should have been a finalist… his defensive rating was 4th overall while playing 1401 SS innings.
An explanation of this bizarre set of finalists is warranted.
By all rights, DeJong should be the 2018 Gold Glove winner – unless his 1005 innings (roughly 50 games short of a full season) is deemed too few… though in and of itself, innings played has historically not meant much for some GG winners, either.
But right behind him should be Swanson and then Ahmed, with Turner a close 4th. It would have been nice to at least get that nod on Thursday to acknowledge a heckuva effort by Swanson to raise his defensive game in 2018. But alas… it didn’t happen.
But this is baseball, so 1 out of 3 is supposedly a good result, right?
Not when playing shortstop, it isn’t. Swanson and DeJong both got snubbed. Big time.