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Who Should Have Won Gold Gloves?

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A look at who was picked and who really deserved it.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Gold Gloves were announced on Sunday. Yadier Molina was picked and Kolten Wong was not. Harrison Bader was shut out of the voting already, and I have looked closely at the rules, and I think he was eligible. Paul DeJong probably had a better case than you’d think, but I’m sure him missing a month of playing time stopped that conversation before it even started.

So nine players now have Gold Gloves and I want to figure out if they should have gotten the Gold Gloves. The Gold Glove voting has all sorts of problems. They typically go with the incumbent and they seem to value offense in their voting. There are countless number of bad choices. The most famous is probably Derek Jeter, but he’s not as bad as Rafael Palmeiro winning the Gold Glove at first in 1999 with three 28 games played at 1B.

Catcher

Winner - Yadier Molina (1,071.2 Inn, 6.4 FRAA*)

Runners-Up - Buster Posey (759.1 Inn, 16.3 FRAA*), Manny Pina (743 Inn, 2.5 FRAA)

*Fielding Runs Above Average, averaged over past 3 seasons per Baseball Prospectus

This is, uh, not the best group. Of the options available, Molina is a fine choice. Posey and Molina have better scores than Pina, but both are more heavily weighted from three years ago than recent play and there’s reason to believe in both cases that recent is a more accurate measure of defense than three years ago.

The catcher who should have won and this is really going to sound ridiculous if you watched the playoffs, because he did not play like a guy who should have won. Yasmani Grandal was easily the best choice based off advanced stats. He played about as many innings as Yadi and he’s been in the top 5 for framing runs above average for four straight years, so this is no fluke. He was, conveniently enough, first this year so there’s really no reason he shouldn’t have won.

Should have won - Grandal (1,037.1 IP, +26.9 FAA*)

First Base

Winner - Freddie Freeman (+5.3 UZR/150*), Anthony Rizzo (+3.2)

Runners-Up - Joey Votto (+2.4)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

So many layers of dumb behind Freeman and Rizzo tying. First, they play first base and if there’s one position that doesn’t deserve two Gold Glove winners, it’s first base. Second, one of the players is a superior fielder. If you’re into small samples, Freeman has much better 2018 advanced stats than Rizzo.

There is however a bit of gray are in who deserved to win. Technically speaking, Brandon Belt is pretty easily the best defensive 1B in the league. But he played in just 112 games. Freeman played in all 162 games. At a certain point, you give it to the guy who is slightly worse, but showed up everyday.

Should Have Won - Freeman

Second Base

Winner - DJ Lemahieu (+4.3 UZR/150*)

Runners-Up - Kolten Wong (+6.1 UZR/150), Javier Baez (+4 UZR/150)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

Javier Baez’s number is based off his defense at all three positions for the past three years, which gives a bit of a boost to his career 2B numbers (which are half of a small sample). He still falls short of both candidates. So, I’m here to confirm to you that: yes Kolten Wong should have won the Gold Glove.

Should Have Won - Kolten

Third Base

Winner - Nolan Arenado (+4.6 UZR/150*)

Runners-Up - Anthony Rendon (+9.6 UZR/15O), Travis Shaw (+1.7 UZR/150)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

Why in the hell was Shaw nominated? I usually will factor in other positions if a player played other positions, but Shaw was so clearly not a 2B that it wasn’t fair to him. He still appears to be a slightly above average 3B. In other news, Nolan Arenado’s defense is overrated and Anthony Rendon’s defense is so insanely underrated. If you polled every baseball fan in the world, I think 90 percent would pick Arenado as a better defender over Rendon and the 9 percent who think otherwise are probably Nationals fans. So I’m here to hopefully add to that 10 percent. Anthony Rendon is CLEARLY a better defender than Nolan Arenado.

Should have won - Rendon

Shortstop

Winner - Nick Ahmed (+4.5 UZR/150*)

Runners-Up - Brandon Crawford (+9.5 UZR/150), Freddy Galvis (+4.6 UZR/150)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

I’m not as in tune with other teams’ defenders as the Cardinals, but Ahmed seems like a crazy random selection. He’s a good defender, I just can’t believe he won it. It looks like Baseball Reference disagreed with Fangraphs defense this year and that played a part. But I’m pretty sure this award belonged to Brandon Crawford.

Should have won - Crawford

Left Field

Winner - Corey Dickerson (+5.3 UZR/150*)

Runners-Up - Adam Duvall (+7.7 UZR/150), Christian Yelich (+2.1 UZR/150)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

Dickerson is a tough case. He started his career in Coors Field and based off my limited sample of looking at outfielders who played for the Rockies, they appear disproportionately bad at defense. His numbers vastly improved when he went to the Rays. So I used the past three years of defense plus about 1,000 innings of league average defense instead of using the Coors numbers. He falls short of Duvall, but it’s a murky area. So I’m going to say he deserves the win.

Should Have Wong - Dickerson

Center Field

Winner - Ender Inciarte (+6.3 UZR/150*)

Runners-Up - Lorenzo Cain (+9 UZR/150), Billy Hamilton (+10.4 UZR/150)

*UZR/150 over the past three seasons

Bader has been a +15.8 UZR/150 fielder over less than 1,000 innings, but also it’s less than 1,000 innings. I honestly don’t know how I’d handle a case like that if I were voting. Anyway, it is more than plausible that Bader is a better fielder than these guys, but I’m not going to put him in the should have won category. If he were not a Cardinal, I would not put his name down due to sample size so I’m going to be fair.

Should Have Won - Hamilton

Right Field

Winner - Nick Markakis (+0.3 UZR/150)

Runners-Up - Jason Heyward (+12.2 UZR/150), Jon Jay (+2.8 UZR/150)

What in the hell? Markakis has literally never had a reputation for being a good defender. He actually used to be a really bad defender, but inexplicably has improved with age. (Author’s note: So, my bad. Apparently he has won multiple Gold Gloves, which is hilarious because was legitimately a bad fielder) But he’s still a scratch defender, not a freaking Gold Glover. Heyward’s bat has disappeared, but his glove is still here. And Jon Jay is just kind of randomly here.

Should Have Won - Heyward

I will not be doing the American League Gold Gloves, because I don’t really care and I assume most of you don’t either. It looks like they got a grand total of two selections right on this list. I didn’t review pitchers because honestly I don’t even know where to start. Zack Greinke is as good a choice as any. So three selections right. They even had a layup (Heyward) and missed the net somehow. Well, at least most of the should have been winners guys were nominated I guess?