After an elite defensive season in 2020 made him a finalists for the National League Gold Glove Award, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings deserves to win the award.
Entering the 2020 season, Jacob Stallings was going to be a starting MLB catcher for the first time in his career. While it was a shortened season, he did not waste the opportunity that he was given by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Stallings hit for a .248/.326/.376 slash line to go wit ha 93 wRC+. He had a healthy 10.5% walk rate, and a strong 89.2 MPH exit velocity. While his wRC+ was 7 points below league average it was strong for a catcher, especially a cathcer that is as strong defensively as Stallings is. In fact, he played so well defensively that he is a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award at catcher.
In 2020, Stallings was worth a fWAR of 1.1. Despite playing in just 42 games, this was the second highest fWAR of his career. Over the course of a full season, this would put Stallings on pace to be worth a fWAR of 4.2.
A big reason Stallings had such a strong fWAR was the defense he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to FanGraphs, his defensive war of 6.3 was tied with with Omar Navarez for best in the National League. It was higher than Tucker Barnhart and Willson Contreras, the two other NL Gold Glove Award finalists at catcher.
The 1.1 fWAR Stallings posted was 5th best in the NL, better than Barnhart but behind Contreras. Among cathcers with at least 100 innings caught Stallings ranked second by posting a +7 Defensive Runs Saved. While he was behind Barnhart (+9 DRS), Stallings caught nearly 100 more innings than Barnhart. As for Contreras, his DRS was just +1.
Speaking of innings pitched, Stallings caught 345.1 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Where did this rank in the NL? First. Thats right, Stallings caught more innings than any other catcher in the NL in 2020. Doing this while playing elite defense should be a factor when deciding who the Gold Glove Award winner is.
Stallings also excelled at framing the ball. His His 2.3 framing rate via FanGraphs was the fifth best in the National League. Of the three Gold Glove Award finalists, it was the highest.
No matter what stat you want to use, Stallings was an elite defensive catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020. He was also the best defensive catcher of the three who are finalists for the NL Gold Glove Award. Due to these reasons, Stallings deserves to win the 2020 NL Gold Glove Award at catcher.