Despite having four finalists in the hunt, the Cleveland Indians were denied a winner in the annual Rawlings Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday night.
Four of the American League’s 27 nominees for the 2017 awards came from the Indians roster, but as has been the case for much of the last decade, the Tribe did not have a player selected as the best at his position.
Yan Gomes (catcher), Francisco Lindor (shortstop), Jose Ramirez (third base), and Carlos Santana (first base) each were part of the final three nominees this season at their respective positions.
Voting for the awards is completed by each MLB manager and as many as six coaches from each club. Managers and coaches cannot vote for their own players and a portion of the voting is comprised of input from the Society for American Baseball Research’s SABR Defensive Index™.
Ramirez and Santana were among the final three at their position for the first times in their careers.
Ramirez, whose has earned increasing attention for his efforts at the plate over the last two seasons, was recognized for his work at the hot corner, a position he manned 88 times during the 2017 season before his workload shifted to second base for much of the final two and a half months of the season after the injury to Jason Kipnis. The AL’s All-Star starting third baseman made six errors on the left side of the diamond in 213 chances (.972 fielding percentage), the third-best mark in the league among players with a minimum of 150 innings worked at the position. He was statistically better at second base with six errors in 294 chances (.980). He was slightly below average at third base and slightly above at second base in terms of range factor.
Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria was selected as the league’s top third baseman, winning for the third time in his career and the first time since back-to-back victories in 2009 and 2010. Longoria exceeded Ramirez’s innings total at third base by more than 500. Longoria finished second in the league with 11 defensive runs saved (compared to zero for Ramirez) and a 5.3 defensive runs above average (to Ramirez’s 5.1). Both had comparable UZR (Longoria 3.2, Ramirez 3.8).
Santana showed notable improvement at first base in 2017 and was the biggest upset of the four Indians players on the finalists list. Thought to be in a timeshare with Edwin Encarnacion to start the season, Santana instead received the bulk of the reps at the position and passed the eye test frequently, showing an improved skill set and far better footwork than in previous seasons.
He lost out to Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer, who took home his fourth award in the last five seasons. Hosmer worked more innings than any other first baseman in the league, but as for the defensive measures, he was below the efforts of Santana. Santana had 10 defensive runs saved (tied with Mitch Moreland for best in the league), a 4.8 UZR (second to Joe Mauer), and a 4.7 UZR/150 (third to Mauer and Moreland). Hosmer, by comparison, ranked tenth in DRS (-7), ninth in UZR (-0.3), and ninth in UZR/150 (-0.4). Hosmer committed one fewer error than Santana, posting a fielding percentage one-thousandth of a point higher than that of the Tribe’s first baseman.
Gomes was nominated for the second time and the first since 2014, when he was among the Gold Glove finalists with teammate Michael Brantley. He fell short to Los Angeles catcher Martin Maldonado, who escaped the logjam of top National League defenders this season with the Angels after spending his first six big league seasons in Milwaukee. Maldonado led all MLB catchers with 1,146 1/3 innings of work behind the plate and had 10 defensive runs saved and a 12.8 defensive runs above average score. He committed just two errors on the season (.998 fielding percentage) and threw out 38.7% of would-be base stealers.
Gomes, by comparison, logged 856 innings with one defensive run saved and a 10.3 DEF rating, the fourth-best in the league. He was charged with nine errors (.991 fielding percentage), but he caught 42.1% of base stealers, third-best in baseball and second-best in the AL among qualified catchers.
Lindor was in the top three for the second straight season; he won the Gold Glove at shortstop last season and was selected as the league’s Platinum Glove Award winner.
The energetic middle infielder finished near the top of the leaderboard defensively in a handful of metrics. His 1,377 innings of work were second only to Alcides Escobar, who started all 162 games this season for the Royals. Lindor finished second among qualified shortstops with a .984 fielding percentage. He also finished with the third-highest number of putouts, defensive runs above average, UZR, and UZR/150, and the fourth-most assists.
Los Angeles’ Andrelton Simmons earned the Gold Glove Award at short for the third time in his career and his first time in the AL. He was tops in the AL with 32 defensive runs saved (Lindor was the next closest defender with five), a 22.6 DEF, a 15.5 UZR, and an 18.2 UZR/150. Simmons committed 14 errors on the season for a .980 fielding percentage.
Other winners in the American League included Minnesota’s Brian Dozier (2B) and Byron Buxton (CF), Kansas City’s Alex Gordon (LF), Boston’s Mookie Betts (RF), and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (SP).
On the National League side, Arizona (1B Paul Goldschmidt, SP Zack Greinke) and Colorado (2B DJ LeMahieu, 3B Nolan Arenado) each had two winners. San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford (SS), Miami’s Marcell Ozuna (LF), Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte (CF), Chicago’s Jason Heyward (RF), and Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart (C) rounded out those honored.
Rawlings has not yet announced the “Best of the Best” honor, dubbed the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award™. Voting, to be completed by fans, runs through 10 PM ET on Thursday, November 9. Lindor was the AL’s recipient of the award last year, becoming the first Indians player selected for that honor (in the sixth season that the award was given).
The legendary glove maker also announced on Tuesday members of its 60th anniversary team, with two former Indians middle infielders being recognized among the greatest defenders in that span. Second baseman Roberto Alomar and shortstop Omar Vizquel made up the nine-man AL team. Vizquel will also be inducted into the Rawlings Gold Glove Award Hall of Fame with MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez during the 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Ceremony on Friday night.
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