Rawlings Sports announced the Gold Glove finalists at each position today, a thing they do because the award is technically called the Rawlings Gold Glove. As expected, Byron Buxton was among the three AL center field finalists. Unexpectedly, however, Joe Mauer was not among the AL first base finalists, and Brian Dozier somehow made it into the AL second base finalists?
This doesn’t make any sense.
I don’t mean to hate on Brian Dozier or anything, but he’s not defensive standout at second base. Of the ten AL second baseman to play at least 800 innings at the position last year, Dozier ranks 9th in Defensive Runs Saves (-4 DRS) and 6th in Ultimate Zone Rating (-1.3 UZR). He doesn’t rate that high under Baseball Reference’s defensive metrics either; his Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average was only two, which ranked him eleventh among AL second baseman. For comparison, Jose Altuve led Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average among second baseman last year with twelve.
Which is why Dozier being a finalist is sort of moot anyway—Altuve is surely going to win. Bwhaha, Altuve wasn’t even named a finalist. What the hell are these people smoking? Anyway, Dozier’s inclusion is just a sad reminder of an unspoken fact about the gold glove awards: offense matters a lot more than it should.
Which brings me to Joe Mauer. How did Mauer not even make it as a finalist for the AL first base award? Let’s look at the defensive metrics here. Mauer’s 2017 Ultimate Zone Rating? 7.1 UZR (1st in the league, and more than twice that of any other first baseman). His Defensive Runs Saves? 7 DRS (3rd). His Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average? 5 (tied with Mitch Moreland—who is a AL first base finalist—for second).
Carlos Santana and Moreland, who are both finalists, deserve to be. Fine. But the third finalist was... Eric Hosmer? Hosmer is not a good defensive first baseman. Among the thirteen AL first baseman with at least 800 innings at the position in 2017, Hosmer ranks 11th is Defensive Runs Saved (-7 DRS—ouch) and 10th in Ultimate Zone Rating (-0.3 UZR).
Of course, Hosmer hit .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs. Mauer only hit .305/.384/.417 with 7 home runs.
As for Byron Buxton, he’s first in all these silly defensive metrics and is going to win the AL center field gold glove. Not much controversy there.