St. Louis Cardinals: Gold Glove Awards Get More Deserving


2015 Nominees Suggest More Influence from Advanced Stats

On Thursday, glove maker Rawlings announced its list of 2015 Golden Glove nominees, and two St. Louis Cardinals made the list. The stalwart, catcher Yadier Molina, and the repeat hopeful, rightfielder Jason Heyward. Every year, these awards spark conspiracy theories about the influence of offensive numbers. When Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt are in play, it’s bound to happen.

The conspiracists are wrong.

Here is the full list of nominees, which was posted on CBS Sports:


Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
Sonny Gray, Athletics
Dallas Keuchel, Astros

Jason Castro, Astros
Russell Martin, Blue Jays
Salvador Perez, Royals

First Base
Eric Hosmer, Royals
Mike Napoli, Rangers
Mark Teixeira, Yankees

Second Base
Jose Altuve, Astros
Brian Dozier, Twins
Ian Kinsler, Tigers

Third Base

Should Jason Heyward resign, the Cardinals may have themselves a two-time Gold Glover on the field. Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Manny Machado, Orioles
Evan Longoria, Rays

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Alcides Escobar, Royals
Didi Gregorious, Yankees

Left Field
Yoenis Cespedes, Tigers/Mets
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Alex Gordon, Royals

Center Field
Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays
Mike Trout, Angels

Right Field
Kole Calhoun, Angels
J.D. Martinez, Tigers
Josh Reddick, Athletics


Jake Arrieta, Cubs
Gerrit Cole, Pirates
Zack Greinke, Dodgers

Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Buster Posey, Giants
Wilson Ramos, Nationals

First Base
Brandon Belt, Giants
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

Second Base
Dee Gordon, Marlins
DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
Brandon Phillips, Reds

Third Base
Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Matt Duffy, Giants
Todd Frazier, Reds

Brandon Crawford, Giants
Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins
Andrelton Simmons, Braves

Left Field
Starling Marte, Pirates
Justin Upton, Padres
Christian Yelich, Marlins

Center Field
Billy Hamilton, Reds

The numbers say human Web Gem

Kevin Kiermaier

is the most deserving nominee for a 2015 Gold Glove Award. Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks

Right Field
Curtis Granderson, Mets
Bryce Harper, Nationals
Jason Heyward, Cardinals

At a glance, it looks as if only a few position players are defense-first performers. Hamilton, Kiermaier and Simmons. Escobar and Gregorious. Pillar, although he had a pretty good offensive year for the Blue Jays. On aggregate, the non-pitcher nominees hit .279 and averaged 19 homers, 29 doubles and 73 RBI in 2015.

This isn’t an overwhelming indictment that offense factors in. Nor does it suggest these players aren’t worthy defenders. In fact, a few advanced metrics indicate that Rawlings is getting this right.

More from St Louis Cardinals News

Take a look at FanGraph’s list of top defenders in terms of defensive runs saved and 17 of the top 20 are among the nominees. Kiermaier saved the Tampa Bay Rays an amazing 42 runs this year to lead the big leagues. How about Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat showing how much ground these guys can capably cover? According to FanGraphs, 15 of the top 20 are nominees. Not bad.

There are still lingering questions, like why none of the five best pitch framers in the game got a nod. Los Angeles Dodgers backstop Yasmani Grandal was the best framer in the business, according to Baseball Prospectus, earning his pitcher more than 180 extra strikes on the year. Yadier Molina, by the way, ranked 13th of 30 catchers with about 75 extra strikes in 2015.

Perhaps managing the running game trumps framing. Grandal had the highest stolen base percentage in baseball this year. Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, another non-nominee, was the second-best framer in 2015. But he ouldn’t throw anyone out this year, either. 

Next: Could the Cardinals pursue Byung Ho Park?

Whatever. Baby steps.

The overwhelming takeaway from all this is that Kevin Kiermaier really deserves a Gold Glove Award. Not just because he can do this. He covers a ton of ground in centerfield and, in the process, saves his team more runs than any other player in the big leagues.