News: Yesterday, Major League Baseball and Rawlings announced the nominees for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. Were any Pittsburgh Pirates nominated for the honor?
Statistically speaking, the Pittsburgh Pirates somewhat struggled this year as a team on defense. They ranked in the bottom ten in terms of total errors, and obviously bottom ten in fielding percentage. Much of this resulted from two of their better defensive players being lost for the bulk of the season in Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang. Which then turned into the Pittsburgh Pirates playing players like John Jaso, Jose Osuna, and Adam Frazier out of position.
Meanwhile, Marte is known as one of the best outfielders in baseball. He has won two gold gloves in his career, both being the previous two seasons. This year he was suspended for 80 games, and obviously did not receive a nomination. Jung Ho Kang is also considered an above average fielder at third base. Missing both of them, plus playing other less capable players, hurt the team’s defense.
Interestingly enough, Kang’s absence actually did not hurt the Pittsburgh Pirates defensive numbers as much as one would think. David Freese replaced Kang as the everyday third baseman, and, as expected, he did a very good job. David Freese is the lone Pittsburgh Pirates player to be nominated for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Freese made 12 errors at the hot corner and had a fielding percentage of .962. Both of these numbers fall just outside of the top 10 in the league. So, why is he up for the award? Well, if you look at his advanced stats he grades out even better. He ranked fourth in the National League with seven defensive runs saved, fourth in UZR/150 at 5.5, and third in defensive WAR at 4.7. So add that all together and Freese had an all-around strong season, which allows his name to be in the final mix.
Along with Freese, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon are finalists for the award. Arenado will most likely earn the award, as he already has four Gold Gloves in his trophy case. Still, it is good to see that Freese is still thought highly as a defender at third base. As Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw with Pedro Alvarez, it is important to have a player that can field the hot corner. If Kang comes back in 2018, the Bucs will be well equipped to handle third base and will be able to look to upgrade elsewhere.
*Here is a complete list of Nominees