St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong was clearly one of the best fielders in the league in 2018. and there’s no doubt he got snubbed. But now that the anger has subsided, we have to ask: how bad was it really?
First off, we should talk about fielding stats. They haven’t been around for a particularly long time outside of dWAR, but Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) has been one of the big and new advanced stats to be given credence among MLB circles and communities. There are a few major ones, but DRS is the most comprehensive.
Wong put up 19 DRS and 2.3 dWAR in 896.2 innings last season, compared to 18 DRS and 2.2 dWAR in 1115 innings at second for LeMahieu. While normally have a similar stat in more innings demonstrates better efficiency, but its the opposite here.
Since DRS and dWAR are cumulative stats, this just shows that Wong produced more overall defensive value than LeMahieu despite playing over 200 less innings.
A sore spot for Wong has actually been some of the easy plays, which hampered his candidacy in a few ways. The first of which is a relatively low percentages of plays completed when the ball is hit towards him.
Wong: 202/251 = 80.5%
LeMahieu: 260/305 = 85.3%
This is obviously a significant discrepancy, and the fact that he had less plays and worse efficiency only spells bad things for Wong. The culprit is clear when you take a deeper look.
Wong’s Chances Completed:
LeMathieu’s Chances Completed:
The catches with lower probability should certainly be taken into account, but should it make up for the large gap in easy plays? Easy plays account for the majority, so lacking consistency in those plays really hampers a Gold Glove pursuit.
So where does that leave the discussion? Well, it seems that we are caught between elite playmaking of Wong and fundamental consistency of LeMahieu.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals: Putting together a trade for Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds
- Cardinals: 3 insider insights as St. Louis approach the Winter Meetings
- St. Louis Cardinals: 3 free agent bench options to consider
- John Mozeliak gives an update on the St. Louis Cardinals off-season plans
- Cardinals: Adam Wainwright commits to Team USA for the WBC
But the point still stands that despite some of the lack of consistency on routine plays, Wong was still more productive overall in less time.
Another big and cumulative fielding stat, Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), plays into this as well. Wong posted a 13.4 UZR and a 17.6 UZR/150, while LeMahieu finished at 11.0 and 12.5 UZR/150.
Breaking it down, we can also see that Wong’s ability is still more valuable than LeMahieu’s consistency. Wong’s Range Runs, which shows a player’s fielding range, is 10.3. That just so happens to be better than the combination of LeMahieu’s 4.5 Range Runs and 4.8 Error Runs, which determines how many runs saved through not committing errors.
On top of that, Wong’s Double Play Runs, which shows how many runs a fielder saved through completing a double play, is 2.6, compared to LeMahieu’s 1.7.
While its a little more understandable in some regards that LeMahieu won the Gold Glove, there is still no doubt Kolten Wong was robbed.