The Astros are well-represented among the finalists for a Rawlings Gold Glove in 2018.
Baseball at its core is a team sport. Unless a team discovers the ability to clone their best players, one single person doesn’t wholly dictate the result of a season. Elsewhere, the Angels are trying to clone Mike Trout at this moment. If they aren’t, well, they aren’t trying to win.
Individuals also are recognized around the game when their contributions deserve praise. Regardless of the success, or failure, of their team. Despite the Astros not succeeding in their ultimate goal, there is still much to take pride in this season. For example, three Astros are finalists for a Gold Glove in 2018.
Dallas Keuchel, Martin Maldonado, and Alex Bregman are all in the running for a 2018 Rawlings Gold Glove. Congrats to them! For Keuchel, he is looking for his fourth Gold Glove award in five years. Maldonado won last year’s award for an AL catcher. Bregman is aiming for his first Gold Glove award.
The competition isn’t lackluster, though. Corey Kluber of the Indians and Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees were also listed as finalists for AL starting pitchers. Keuchel led the three in groundball percentage (53.7%), but Tanaka had the best DRS — Defensive Runs Saved — with +7 runs. Kluber, like Keuchel, finished +3 DRS in 2018.
Here’s a helpful reminder about defensive metrics: the numbers aren’t infallible, and quite difficult to accurately quantify defensive skill.
Maldonado’s competition is a pair of familiar AL Central foes: Yan Gomes of the Indians and Salvador Perez of the Royals. The best overall defender by FanGraphs’ Defense rating was Perez at 14.1. Gomes with +4 runs and Maldonado with +3 runs finished with a better DRS than Perez. By Baseball Prospectus’ catcher metrics, Gomes was the best of the three with +7.5 framing runs. By Fielding Runs Above Average, Gomes also finished with the highest mark at +3.2 runs. Perez finished well below Gomes and Maldonado in both categories. Again, take the defensive and framing metrics with a grain of salt.
The same line of thought applies to the Gold Glove for AL third baseman. Bregman is in the running, but so are Matt Chapman of the Athletics and Jose Ramirez of the Indians. By DRS and UZR, Chapman is a clear choice. Here is where I insert a note about the unreliability of defensive metrics, although they aren’t entirely useless. That said, Bregman, I believe, is a better third baseman than what the numbers state. Have you seen Bregman making some fantastic plays at the hot corner since this season? Mercy. At the same time, Chapman and Ramirez were quite spectacular at third base. The difference in metrics may be the ultimate deciding factor.
At this time, the odds seem good that at least one Astro in 2018 will come away with a Gold Glove when announced on November 4th. Keuchel may hold the edge over his competition while Maldonado and Bregman both face stiff competition. Let’s hope that all three come away with a win, especially if Keuchel and Maldonado find themselves elsewhere next season.