The National League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced Wednesday; three players from the Cincinnati Reds, and two apiece from the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies were rewarded, along with centerfielders Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies and Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros.
Bronson Arroyo won his first Gold Glove by tying for the lead among National League pitchers with six defensive runs saved. Troy Tulowitzki, another first-timer, was second among qualified NL shortstops with, according to Baseball Info Solutions, 16 defensive runs saved.
Scott Rolen made the second fewest errors and had the second best fielding percentage among NL third basemen en route to his eighth career award. And Yadier Molina won his third by leading NL catchers in assists (15 more than runner-up Brian McCann) and caught stealing percentage -- a whopping 48.5.
The biggest question in the National League comes in the outfield, where Victorino and Bourn are joined by Carlos Gonzalez. The first two won their third and second awards, respectively, in deserving fashion. Victorino tied for the NL lead with 11 outfield assists and tied for fifth among NL outfielders with 11 defensive runs saved. Bourn tied for second in that category with 16.
Gonzalez did have five Web Gems and 17 Web Gem points, but he finished 23rd among qualified NL outfielders with -2 defensive runs saved. Another defensive metric from Fangraphs.com, Ultimate Zone Rating (per 150 defensive games played) had him 20th at -3.8 (behind teammate Dexter Fowler among others). In fact, we can’t find a stat that justifies his selection.
Baseball Info Solutions charts good plays and misplays by category. Gonzalez did not rank among the leaders in any significant good play defensive category by their measures. He did rate tied for first among outfielders in their category “Wasted Throw after Hit or Error” with five instances in which a Gonzalez throw led to another baserunner advancing on the play.
Reds rightfielder Jay Bruce made his case for a Gold Glove, leading all NL outfielders in defensive runs saved (17) and finishing second in UZR/150.
Brandon Phillips won the award at second base with the second fewest errors while leading all major league second basemen in Web Gems. But 27 NL second basemen had more defensive runs saved than Phillips did, including Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.
UtleyMany believe Utley is long overdue for a Gold Glove, as he’s led NL second basemen in defensive runs saved in each of the past three seasons, including in 2008 when he nearly doubled the player who finished second. He was second in 2007, and third in 2006 and 2005 as well. And this season, Utley led NL second basemen in Plus/Minus, as well as Total Zone Runs as a 2B, Range Factor per 9 innings as a 2B and Range Factor per game as a 2B. The latter three came courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Notably, all four infield winners, including first baseman Albert Pujols, led the National League in Web Gems at their position. Tulowitzki was the overall Web Gem champion.
All rankings in defensive runs saved and UZR/150 are among qualified National League players at that position, and are taken from Fangraphs.