Rawlings announced their Gold Glove finalists at all the positions throughout the MLB. The Pittsburgh Pirates have two finalists.
Rawlings Baseball announced the Gold Glove finalists at every position for the National American League. Among their announcements, the Pittsburgh Pirates have two players have been nominated finalists for the defnesive award.
The first of which is catcher Jacob Stallings. This is should be no surprise as Stallings proved himself to be a defensive wizard in 2019. Though Stallings only caught 463.1 innings, the defensive standout racked up +14 DRS, caught 44% of the runners that tried to steal on him, and was an outstanding pitch framer. Per FanGraphs’ metric, he saved 6 runs alone in his framing ability. Among all catchers, that ranked 11th, and remember, this was in less than 500 innings played.
Stallings followed up his showcase with another fantastic season in 2020. Stallings caught 33% of would be base stealers, and had +7 defensive runs saved behind the dish. The only other catcher to have more defensive runs saved was Cincinnati Reds, and fellow Gold Glove finalist Tucker Barnhart. However, Stallings was a great framer with +2.3 runs, and no other National League finalist posted a higher framing runs saved mark.
His compeitors, the aformentioned Barnhart, and Cubs’ backstop Wilson Contreas, are good defenders as well. Barnhart led all catchers in DRS and posted a solid +1.6 framing runs saved. However it’s a two man race between Barnhart and Stallings. Though Contreas isn’t a bad defender, he only had +1 defensive run saved, and has the lowest defensive WAR among the trio.
The other finalist is second baseman Adam Frazier. Fraizer was a Gold Glove finalist in 2019 when he had -1 DRS, but +1.6 range runs above average and a 2.9 UZR. His highest regarded defensive mark was outs above average. This defensive metric put him +11 OAA, which ranked 19th in all of baseball, but first among second basemen. The Gold Glove winner that year, Kolten Wong had only +9 OAA.
This year, Fraizer put up even better defensive numbers. Through 343 innings at second, the Pirates’ defender had +4 DRS, 1.9 UZR, and .5 range runs above average. Outs above average was very high on him yet again giving him a +6 mark, and leading all second basemen in the National League.
The competition at second base for this award is much stiffer than behind the plate. All three finalists are National League Central rivals. Kolten Wong and Nico Horner posted higher defensive runs saved. However, all three have very similar range runs above average marks, and Frazier sits between Wong and Horner in UZR. Horner had +4 OAA and Wong had +2 OAA. Right now, it’s anyone’s award between the three.
In previsous years, we’ve seen the popular name, or the player who makes a handful of highlight reel plays take home the Gold Glove, rather than who truly deserves it based on the stats. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a handful of less popular names, like David Peralta, Nick Ahmed, Yolmer Sanchez, Matt Olson, and Martin Maldonado, deservedly, take home the award. It’s how Rafael Palmeiro took home this award after playing 28 games at first base in 1999, and Derek Jeter has five despite being an awful defender at short. But seems voters are now much less focused on the flashy plays and popularity, which bodes well for the Pirates. Both Frazier and Stallings are very deserving of the award based on what they did in the field in 2020.