St. Louis Cardinals: Congratulations, but Wong should not be alone

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 07: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals attempts to turn a double play on Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves during the first inning in game four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 07, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 07: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals attempts to turn a double play on Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves during the first inning in game four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 07, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /
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Gold Glove voting is over, and the St. Louis Cardinals have one winner. Looking at the defensive statistics, he should not have been the only one.

The biggest difference between the 2018 and 2019 St. Louis Cardinals was undeniably the defense. By most defensive metrics, the 2019 Cardinals ranked either third or fourth in the National League a year after leading the league in errors.

The strength of the defense combined with a starting pitching staff that excelled at getting ground balls led to the team getting as far as they did.

As we trudge through the most boring two weeks of the season, the only excitement is end of season awards. The first award presented is the Gold Glove awards. Historically, this award isn’t necessarily based in statistics and legacy awards have been given out. Last year, Kolten Wong was snubbed at second base and Yadier Molina, who didn’t lead in any defensive metrics, won the award for catchers.

The Cardinals had six players as finalists for their respective positions. Paul Goldschmidt, Harrison Bader, Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, and Jack Flaherty were all up for Gold Gloves and on Sunday the winners were announced.

A year after being snubbed for the award, Kolten Wong was the only player selected from the Cardinals. While Wong was completely deserving and he deserves all the credit as he had his best season as a pro this year, he shouldn’t have been the only one.

As I wrote when the finalists were announced, I proposed that three of the six (Wong, DeJong, and Bader) deserved to win at their positions. That was obviously not the case.

By DRS, Wong was the only player who led at their own position. But DRS is not law, just like any other single number can’t completely tell a whole story.

Looking at DeJong, his DRS was fourth in the NL at 14. This was behind the winner, Nick Ahmed (18), Trevor Story (17), and Javy Baez (15). Looking at other numbers though, DeJong had the best UZR (11.4) and ErrR (7.3). This means that he had one of the best overall fielding years. ErrR is a component of UZR, and UZR and DRS are both catch-all defensive metrics.

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It does depend on the person, but UZR vs. DRS is a tough debate on which is more reputable and which you should use. The tiebreaker in this instance could be more standard metrics like fielding percentage (which DeJong leads in) or FanGraphs’ own Def metric, which DeJong leads in as well.

Analyzing defense isn’t easy though, and DeJong could’ve been hurt by the lack of flashy plays made. He had an awesome year with the glove and was as dependable as you could want. DeJong had a good chance to win the award and the argument is there, but he wasn’t a clear leader like Wong was last year so I wouldn’t call this a snub.

Harrison Bader is a different story though.

Bader was third in DRS with 13 behind Victor Robles (22) and Lorenzo Cain (20). This is a big margin and I understand why Cain won but by UZR, it’s not even close. Bader’s 12.9 UZR is 5.9 better than Cain’s 7.0 which is second best. Bader leads Cain in RngR (Range above average) and in ARM (FanGraphs’ arm value metric).

The differences between DRS and UZR here don’t honestly make sense to me, but again, with the tiebreaker, the Def numbers for both aren’t close. Bader’s 14.5 Def is way above Cain’s 9.0.

Even though Bader spent about a month in the minors, even though he didn’t hit well, he had the most five-star catches of any center fielder and, by many metrics, was the best. The good thing is that he seems to have taken the snub well.

At the end of the day, this award is not doing anything new. Every year, players are snubbed that absolutely shouldn’t be. Big surprise, this year is no different. It is just recognition that doesn’t determine a player’s value. It doesn’t deserve any anger, but recognition for players who earned it shouldn’t be that big of a request.

Next. 3 Halloween-scary trades that the Cardinals should actually do. dark

Once again, congratulations to Kolten Wong for hopefully the first of many Gold Gloves in his career. For the players who should’ve won, everyone gets the same chance again in 2020 and the best way to look at it is how Bader did. Fuel.

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