In years past, Kolten Wong has shown signs of how good his defense could be. He was held back by his inability to consistently make routine plays, though. This season he seems to be putting it all together.
He’s picked the right year to do it too. There isn’t much competition for the Gold Glove at second base. Right now Kolten Wong is arguably the favorite for the award and it’s not even that arguable.
Kolten Wong by the Numbers
The biggest reasons Wong is the favorite for the Gold Glove are his own numbers. Wong leads all National League second basemen in DRS, rPM, UZR, UZR/150 and Def. He also ranks third in fielding percentage.
DRS stands for defensive runs saved. It accounts for the number of runs a defender has saved his team over the course of a season, by making plays. Average defenders will have a DRS of zero and anything below that is considered below average. On the other side, a plus-five DRS is ranked as above average, a plus 10 is ranked as great and anything 15 or higher is considered Gold Glove caliber.
Kolten Wong has a DRS of 18 going into Friday night’s game. Not only is that three above what is considered to be Gold Glove caliber, but it is also five points better than the next closest second baseman.
Plus-minus runs saved, or rPM, is a factor in DRS that accounts for a fielders range and ability to convert batted balls into outs. It is rated much like DRS as far as below average, average and above average. Wong has an rPM of 19. That mark is eight points higher than the next second baseman.
UZR and UZR/150
UZR stands for ultimate zone rating. It is similar to DRS in that it evaluates the number of runs a defender has saved or given up for his team. It takes into account, arm strength, range and errors committed compared to other defenders at a players position. UZR/150 is the same stat, just averaged out over 150 games, so you can accurately compare players who have played in a different number of games.
Kolten Wong’s UZR is at 11.3 going into Friday night’s game and his UZR/150 is 20.5. No other second baseman in the NL have a UZR over four or a UZR/150 over 7.5.
Def simply stands for defense. It measures a players defensive value relative to league average. Def uses positional adjustments so it can be used to compare players across all positions. Wong has a Def of 12.6, which is over seven points better than any other second baseman and ranks best among all defensive players in the National League.
The second biggest reason Kolten Wong is the favorite to win the Gold Glove is the lack of competition for the award. There are a couple guys who have been mentioned, but their numbers don’t touch Kolten’s.
DJ LeMahieu may be the second in line for the award. He has solid numbers all around and ranks second behind Wong in several categories. He also ranks second in fielding percentage by just one-hundredth of a point.
LeMahieu ranks second in rPM at 11, DRS at 13, UZR at four and UZR/150 at 7.5. If it weren’t for Kolten Wong he would most likely be the favorite to win the award. He’s having a really good year defensively, just not as good as Wong.
Ozzie Albies and Ketel Marte
The race for third place is a very close one. Despite what Atlanta manager Brian Snitker might say, Ozzie Albies and Ketel Marte are pretty much neck and neck defensively.
Albies has the advantage in UZR, 3.8 to 2.1, and UZR/150, 5.7 to 4.1. He also has a better Def than Marte. Albies Def is 5.6 to Marte’s 3.4.
Those numbers are all in favor of Ozzie, but Marte has an edge in a few categories as well. Marte has a better DRS, six to four, and rPM, five to three. He also has a better fielding percentage, that actually leads all NL second basemen, at .992 to .985.
Wong has to be the favorite
Most Cardinal fans will give the edge to Wong out of pure bias, but the numbers are there to back it up. Kolten Wong has been the best defensive second baseman in the National League this season and it’s really not that close. Even if just for a lack of competition, Wong seems to be a shoo-in for the Gold Glove award at this point.
Featured Image by Bill Greenblatt of UPI
“From Our Haus to Yours”