Three San Francisco Giants have been named finalists at their respective positions for a Gold Glove, and each has a unique case to win.
On Thursday, Rawlings announced their annual list of Gold Glove finalists in anticipation of the awards being handed out in November. On the National League side of things, three San Francisco Giants’ players were named finalists at their respective positions: catcher Buster Posey, second baseman Joe Panik, and shortstop Brandon Crawford.
The award winners won’t be named until November 8th, giving us plenty of time to speculate as to which player while take home the shiny trophy. With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of the three Giants’ candidates and their case to win the Gold Glove in 2016.
If anyone is going to unseat the eight-time incumbent Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina, it will happen this year. Molina is a finalist for the award again, but he clearly didn’t play up to his own standards in 2016.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ backstop had, in a few measures, the worst year of his career defensively in 2016. His 4.4 defensive rating was by far the worst of his career, and the first time it was lower than 10 over a full season. His -1 defensive runs saved was his second-worst, behind only a -3 in 2011. He matched his career-high by allowing eight passed balls, and threw out a career-low 21 percent of potential base-stealers.
Posey, on the other hand, enjoyed one of his finest years. His 12 DRS was the best of his career, and the most for a catcher in the league. His 11.2 defensive rating was second in the NL, and the second-best of his career. He allowed two passed balls, the lowest total in the NL, and threw out a career-high 37 percent of potential thieves on the basepaths.
Posey’s biggest defensive contribution, however, came in his pitch framing. According to statcorner, Posey basically stole 201 strikes for his pitchers (pitches caught out of the strike zone that were called a strike), which led all catchers.
These two also have to compete with Jonathan Lucroy, who began the season as the Milwaukee Brewers’ catcher. He had a fantastic season by most any measure, but his case is hurt by the fact that he was traded at the deadline to the Texas Rangers.
Posey has been a contender in the past, but this should be his year. The numbers back him up.
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Though he missed about a month with a concussion, Panik had a very strong defensive season. He committed only five errors on the season, and his .992 fielding percentage was second-best in baseball among players with 1,000 innings at the position. He trailed only Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, so Panik led the National League.
Taking a deeper look shows that Panik is lacking a bit behind some of his competitors. He finished tied for fourth among NL second baseman in DRS, matching LeMahieu’s three. Panik was third in defensive rating (9.3), and third in ultimate zone rating (7.4).
Metrics don’t necessarily back up LeMahieu and Segura either, but LeMahieu has his reputation. He was a Gold Glove winner in 2014 at the position, and has that “wow factor” in the field. He’s known for making the flashy plays, and is about as sure-handed as they come at the spot.
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If anyone should win this award, it’s Cesar Hernandez of the Philadelphia Phillies. He led NL second baseman in DRS, UZR, and defensive rating. But since he won’t be the victor, it seems probable that LeMahieu takes it home again.
Panik has the defensive prowess to win one of these awards. Maybe if he can put together a full, healthy season, he can take one home (unless he wins it this year, then congrats!).
And one thing to keep in mind, Chicago Cubs’ young second baseman Javier Baez didn’t play enough innings at the position to qualify for this award. So while he’s stolen hearts this postseason with his flashy defense, he can’t win this award. But next year, it might just be his to lose.
Of the Giants’ big three this year, Crawford is the only one that already owns a Gold Glove. He took home the trophy in 2015, and is in good position to repeat as the NL’s premier shortstop.
Crawford led all National League defenders, not just shortstops, with a 28 defensive rating. The next closest was Galvis in Philadelphia at 22. Also among all players, Crawford finished tied for second in DRS at 19, the same total posted by Russell of the Cubs. Crawford’s 21.3 UZR was also tops in the NL, while Russell was third at 15.4.
In revised zone rating (the percentage of balls hit to a player’s zone that are turned into outs), Russell led all infielders with an .865 score. Crawford finished fifth among infielders at .828.
There is no denying Crawford’s prowess in the field. He’s a wizard with a glove on his left hand, and fills up a highlight reel as well as anyone. But Russell gives him stiff competition. Crawford maybe should be the front-runner and take home his second straight award, but it’s no sure thing.
Ultimately, this all means nothing at this point. The voting has already been completed, and Rawlings knows who the winners are. They just gave us something to talk about while we wait for the official announcements.
Full list of finalists:
AL C: Salvador Perez, Carlos Perez, James McCann
NL C: Posey, Molina, Lucroy
AL 1B: Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland, Eric Hosmer
NL 1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Wil Myers
AL 2B: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler
NL 2B: Panik, Segura, LeMahieu
AL 3B: Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado, Kyle Seager
NL 3B: Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, Justin Turner
AL SS: Jose Iglesias, Francisco Lindor, Andrelton Simmons
NL SS: Crawford, Russell, Galvis
AL LF: Brett Gardner, Alex Gordon, Colby Rasmus
NL LF: Adam Duvall, Christian Yelich, Starling Marte
AL CF: Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar
NL CF: Billy Hamilton, Odubel Herrera, Ender Inciarte
AL RF: George Springer, Adam Eaton, Mookie Betts
NL RF: Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, Nick Markakis
AL P: R.A. Dickey, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander
NL P: Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright, Jake Arrieta