The end of the regular season is quickly approaching which means that the yearly awards will soon be diced out. The MVP, Cy Young, and Silver Sluggers awards certainly draw more attention than the gold glove selections.
However, this year”s best defensive players make the race very interesting.
(Note: Here”s a definition of the often used UZR/150)
Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
The best defensive catchers in the A.L ultimately boil down to Wieters, Alex Avila, A. J. Pierzynski, and Russell Martin. All four have gaudy fielding percentages, and have managed their pitching staffs relatively well, but Baltimore’s young prodigy separates himself from the rest of the pack with the amount of innings he has logged this season.
To put things into perspective, Wieters has caught 1145.2 inning per Fangraphs. Pierzynski checks in at second place with 1053.2 innings. Plus, Avila hasn’t even eclipsed the 1,000 mark due to injuries. It would be safe to say that he”s out of the running.
Given his young age, Wieters obviously has much fresher legs than anyone else in contention, but he also hasn’t had the benefit of being the designated hitter much or playing first base to ease the workload. For that matter, he hasn’t played first base all year.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
The departure of Adrian Gonzalez from the American League dramatically increases Teixeira’s chances of winning the gold glove. On the same token, his departure doesn”t make any guarantees for Teixeira
As durable as Teixeira usually is, assorted injuries have placed him on the shelf multiple times throughout the year. For the past three seasons he has played in at least 155 of the 162 games. This year, he won’t even surpass the 125 mark.
The first baseman is currently nursing a left calf injury that he suffered about a month ago. While he’s making a considerable amount of progress with the setback, he has only played in 120 games, and may not return until the final series of the year against Boston. That’s being optimistic too seeing that Teixeira played in a
Yes, injuries have plagued Teixeira this year, but he still leads the A.L with a 11.6 UZR/150 if you take Gonzalez out of the picture. Albert Pujols is second with a 6.6 UZR/150, and there’s no one else within striking distance outside of those two.
Look for the Yankees’ star to add to his collection of gold gloves.
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Teixeira and Cano are two big reasons why New York owns the in baseball. While Yankee Stadium’s small dimensions determinant many highlight reel plays in the outfield, the right side of their infield has been flawless for the most part.
The second base gold glove race doesn’t provide much controversy, however. Dustin Pedroia could make a case for himself, as could Dustin Ackley of the Mariners. However, the voters are going to look at what Cano has done both defensively and offensively, which instantly gives him the edge.
Pedroia hasn’t been himself at the plate this year, hitting below 300. And ironically, injuries have played a role in his struggles much like Teixeria. Ackley though, has simply yet to figure out how to consistently hit in the major leagues.
Cano ranks third amongst A.L second basemen with a 6.7 UZR/150. Yes, Ackley and Pedroia both have higher marks. Cano, however, has played over 100 more innings than Pedroia, and has better range than him at this point in their respective careers.
While the gold glove award winners are supposed to reward the best defensive players, Cano’s offense and defense will surely secure him of the honor.
Brendan Ryan, Seattle Mariners
It’s surprising to discover than Ryan has yet to win a gold glove. Yes, his poor offensive reputation might have something to do with that. But aside from that, he has always been a sturdy asset on the defensive side of the ball.
Ryan leads all A.L infielders with a 17.3 UZR/150, easily a gold glove caliber number. Factors contributing to that solid UZR include great range and consistency, two tools he obviously boasts.
However, Ryan isn’t a household name like Cano or Teixeira. He won’t get the benefit of the doubt if the voters are deciding between him or a more reputable name. He’s not an everyday player, nor is he much of a threat at the plate, hitting just .194 for the year.
Ryan might be the best defensive shortstop in the league, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see somebody like Elvis Andrus or J.J. Hardy win the award instead.
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
The hot corner has statistically been an excellent defensive position this year. Mike Moustakas, Adrain Beltre, and Brett Lawrie have all had terrific years. And the stats can back that point up too.
Moustakas owns a 16.3 UZR/150, Beltre’s UZR/150 checks in at exactly 14, while Lawrie takes the back seat with a 11.8 UZR/150. Plus, all three have great range.
So the choice is tough. Do you go with the young glove of Moustakas, the experienced one with Beltre, or Lawrie, the dark horse?
The choice isn’t very clear, but the Royals’ budding star should win the honor. He then all three of his counterparts and has the UZR/150 on his side.
Again, the voters could elect to with the more accomplished Beltre whose having a solid season on both sides of the ball. While Moustakas is a slightly bigger name than Brendan Ryan, he’s still stuck in small market of Kansas City.
Should he win it? Yes. Will he? Probably not.
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