The St. Louis Cardinals are a defense-first team. Unsurprisingly, they have three players that have been nominated for a Gold Glove.
It is no secret, the St. Louis Cardinals‘ strength is pitching and defense. They aren’t known for their offense, but their defense was first in the MLB by Defensive Runs Saved in 2020. DRS is not the end-all-be-all of defensive statistics, but it is one of the main ones utilized to judge defensive performance.
Unsurprisingly, having one of the best defenses in the MLB leads to players being nominated as the best defenders at their position.
In 2019, Kolten Wong won the Gold Glove at second base and was the only Cardinals player to win a Gold Glove out of six total nominees last year. This year, the Cardinals have just three nominees for the award at their respective positions.
Paul Goldschmidt was nominated with Brandon Belt and Anthony Rizzo for first baseman. Goldy has been a solidifying force for the entire infield since his arrival before 2019 and in 2020. This year, Goldy finished with 1 OAA and one DRS, tying Belt with OAA. By most other statistics, Goldy really didn’t grade out all that well, but he has been nominated nonetheless.
Kolten Wong is going for his second straight Gold Glove after he was announced as a finalist along with Nico Hoerner and Adam Frazier. Wong is once again an early favorite as he led NL second baseman with 6 DRS this season. His 2 OAA this year is behind Frazier’s 6, and Hoerner’s 4, but Wong is going to have an edge as the defending winner.
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The newcomer to this group of nominees is left fielder Tyler O’Neill. Despite looking awkward at times in the field, O’Neill actually graded out as the best left fielder in baseball with 4 OAA, ahead of fellow nominees David Peralta and Shogo Akiyama who both finished with 1 OAA. Looking at other statistics, he leads every left fielder in baseball by DRS, UZR, and overall defensive value.
Tyler O’Neill is a legit left fielder and he’s got a pretty good chance to win this award.
This year the Gold Glove process was a little different. Rather than a league-wide vote happening to pick the nominees, they were selected strictly by defensive metrics.
Notably, nine-time winner Yadier Molina and defensive wiz Harrison Bader were not nominated at their positions, and they let everyone know about it.
Yadier Molina posted a long Instagram post about his discontent with the announcement but has since deleted it.
Bader was a little more subtle, but the point of the message was well received from both players. If we know either of them, we know that this will just be fuel for them.
If I had to guess right now, I would say Wong and O’Neill are most deserving of the award this year. We can unpack whether or not (by the metrics) Bader and Yadi were deserving of a nomination, but for now, they definitely aren’t happy about being left off the list of finalists.