Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong have been named finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove award at their respective positions. Both guys are well deserving to be finalists, and both have a good chance of taking the award home.
Molina has won eight gold gloves over the course of his fifteen-year career. He’s shooting for his ninth this season, and he might be the favorite at catcher. The other two finalists are Manny Pina and Buster Posey.
Pina put together a solid season this year behind the plate. He amassed six defense runs saved, a fielding percentage of .995, caught 20 of 49 base stealers and had 45 assists. He put together those numbers over 743 innings in 92 games.
Buster Posey has one Gold Glove on his resume and is trying to add another this year. Despite playing over 100 innings at first base this season, Posey had 10 DRS at catcher and a .997 fielding percentage. He only caught 17 of 42 base stealers, though, in 759.1 innings and 88 games.
Yadi has the most innings caught of the three by far, at 1017.2 in 121 games. He has the worst DRS, though, at negative one, despite having the highest fielding percentage at .998. One of his most impressive numbers is the amount of stolen base attempts with him behind the plate. Even though he caught over 1000 innings, baserunners only tried to steal against him 39 times, and 12 of them were thrown out.
What really sets Yadi apart, though, are his intangibles. Molina handles a pitching staff like no one else in baseball. This year he guided a very young rotation and Miles Mikolas, who was pitching in his first season since going overseas four years ago, to a 3.52 ERA.
Wong may be the favorite to win the Gold Glove at second base. If he’s not, then it’s DJ LeMahieu. Both of those two players have better numbers than the third finalist, Javier Baez.
Baez not only played 462 innings at shortstop this season, he was also just average at second base. His .940 fielding percentage, 5 DRS and 1.5 UZR/150 are nothing special. He also didn’t make a single play of remote probability, and only had 204 assists and 40 double plays turned.
The fact that Baez is even a finalist shows one of two things, if not both. Either the defensive competition this season at second base took a sharp drop off after Wong and LeMahieu, or the managers and coaches by in to the hype of the national media too much.
LeMahieu had a really good season defensively at second base. Over 128 games and 1115 innings, he put up a .993 fielding percentage, 18 DRS, a 12.5 UZR/150, 378 assists and turned 53 double plays. His Def was an impressive 12.9 as well. He didn’t play any position other than second base this season, either.
Like Baez, LeMahieu didn’t make any plays with a remote probability, but he did make 99.2 percent of the routine plays that came his way. He epitomizes consistency at second base, and although he isn’t the flashiest player, he gets the job done as well as anyone in the league.
Kolten had the best defensive season of his career this year. In the past, he flashed Gold Glove potential, but never could consistently make even the routine plays. He finally put it all together in 2018, though, making difficult plays over and over, as well as the routine ones.
Wong had the most DRS of any of the finalists at second base, with 19. He also had a UZR/150 of 17.6, a .981 fielding percentage, 306 assists and 47 double plays turned. His overall Def was 15.
Aside from being on a non-playoff team and in a relatively small market, Wong has a very good shot at taking home his first Gold Glove. The Cardinals hope it will be his first of many.
Featured Image by Orlin Wagner of Associated Press
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