St. Louis Cardinals: Were Molina and Bader snubbed from Gold Gloves?
Both Yadier Molina and Harrison Bader were left out of the finalists for the Gold Glove award at their positions. Were these St. Louis Cardinals really snubbed?
Last week, Rawlings announced their 2020 Gold Glove finalists with the announcement coming about a month from now. For the St. Louis Cardinals, they had three nominees for the award in Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, and Kolten Wong.
By my own early estimations, O’Neill and Wong should be the winners in left field and second base, but we won’t know for sure until the results are announced.
However, two Cardinals were quite upset about not being listed among the finalists at their positions.
Yadier Molina and Harrison Bader are two of the key defenders on the St. Louis Cardinals. The up-the-middle defense is extremely important for any team, starting with the catcher and ending with the center fielder.
Yadier Molina has long been considered the best defensive catcher in baseball. However, as he nears 40, his defense has understandably declined. No matter what the stats say, Molina was very angry.
Harrison Bader is known for his glove and was notably snubbed from the finalists last year. He took a much more subtle approach towards expressing his discontent.
Ask around, and nobody will say that either of these players are “bad” at defense. Unlike most years where a vote is done to pick finalists, this year’s finalists were picked strictly by defensive metrics. This begs the question, did Bader and Yadi truly get snubbed?
I wouldn’t put any catcher in the game above the nine-time Gold Glove award winner as the best leader and pitch caller in the game, but the days of Yadi’s defensive dominance in every category are waning.
By pop time (the time from the snap of the mitt when the ball hits home to the point the ball hits the second baseman’s glove), Molina was 22nd in the league in 2020. By framing, Molina was 12th overall. These are two main catcher advanced statistics, but the traditional ones also tell the story.
Runners don’t steal against Molina.
Molina is a deterrent behind the plate, and that hurts his counting stats. As far as blocking goes, Molina also ranked very high in not allowing passed balls, but still not at the top.
Molina is still good defensively, he’s just not in the top three by most metrics. That is perfectly fine for a 38-year-old catcher, but not good enough for that catcher to win a Gold Glove.
Bader was much closer to a finalist than Molina but still was just outside of the top three in some main categories. By OAA, Bader was tied for third-best in the NL with 4 OAA. His success rate added was 5%, which is tied for first, but his success rate of 91% landed him back in fourth in the NL.
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By Baseball Savant’s Outfielder Jump metric, Bader was the best NL outfielder with 2.4 feet added vs average. Bader was also first in the MLB in success rate for catches with less than a 90% success rate. That basically means he was the best in the MLB at making difficult catches.
When you look at Ultimate Zone Rating, Bader falls to 8th in the NL and he falls even further when you look at Defensive Runs Saved.
It seems that Bader excels at making difficult plays, but (at least in 2020), didn’t excel often enough on average to put himself in the top three overall at his position.
There definitely is room to argue that Bader was snubbed, but he was closer to a top-five NL center fielder than a top three in 2020. As much as it may not be popular, the numbers say that Molina was not snubbed for a Gold Glove.
At the end of the day, Gold Gloves don’t really mean much except for recognition.
It seems every year there is at least one notable snub from the award, but this year, that snub wasn’t on the Cardinals. Yadi was certainly good, Bader was nearly in, but neither were confidently at the top three of their position defensively in 2020