Holy crap, Major League Baseball announced the Gold Glove Awards this evening, Sunday, November 4th. Did you know about this? Did you even know it was nighttime? Even though we “gained” an hour due to turning our clocks back — did you even remember that was happening? I woke up refreshed this morning and saw it was only 8:30am when last weekend it would’ve been 9:30am. Way off the point here, but wow, Major League Baseball really did announce the Gold Glove Award winners.
Both Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford were finalists (as announced on October 25th), but neither man wound up being the winner for his position. Those honors went to Yadier Molina and Nick Ahmed.
It’s Molina’s 9th career Gold Glove, but first since 2015 following an 8-year winning streak. If you’re wondering if the 35-year old really was the best defensive catcher in 2018, then let me tell you: he was not!
Rawlings’ Gold Glove voting employs the following formula:
25% of the award is based on the SABR Defensive Index (SDI), which
draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts.
incorporates a rating for a player’s ability to turn double plays (2B and SS), fielding bunts (primarily P, C, 3B, and 1B) and scoops of throws in the dirt (1B)
The rest of the vote comes from managers and their coaching staffs, with the caveat being that they cannot vote for players on their own team.
You can read more about SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) as well as the SDI here, but suffice it to say: BUSTER WUZ ROBBED.
By the vaunted SDI, he had a 6.4 rating, which led all qualified NL catchers. Yadier Molina was sixth. Posey’s +10 Defensive Runs Saved, a fancy way of measuring how many runs a defender prevented because of his fielding ability, was third-best in MLB for all catchers with a minimum of 700 innings played. In 1017.2 innings played, Molina was a -1 DRS. So, it’s safe to say that this particular award came down to reputation with Posey’s hip injury that cost him the final month of the season being the tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, Nick Ahmed was far and away the best defensive shortstop in MLB on a statistical level — his 13.1 SDI was first among all NL shortstops and third in the NL among all defenders; with 21 DRS, he was tied for first with Andrelton Simmons among shortstops — while Brandon Crawford was only fourth-best, so this one feels right and is actually fair.
But Brandon Belt was the best defensive first baseman (9.6 SDI; 13 DRS) and sixth-best defender period in the National League and didn’t even get nominated. The award was a tie between Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo (3rd and 4th by SDI, respectively). So, again, reputation or eye tests carried the day again, although they’re both excellent defenders.
I’m still bent out of shape about Daylight Savings Time and by the timing of this announcement, but since I’m going to be up an extra hour tonight for some reason, I’m also probably going to spend the time being more annoyed by the fact that even Rawlings is using the SDI as part of their award hype. Observe:
Those are the only two SABR retweets they made and that’s probably because if they did any more, they’d rightfully inspire some outrage from various fanbases whose best defenders either didn’t win or weren’t even nominated.
What we do know is that reputation and eye tests still carry the day, but also that the Giants’ best defenders — even with hip and knee injuries — are still very, very good. That’s not the same as having national recognition or a genuine award, but it’s a little more hope than we’re used to these days.