The Reds may not be hitting or pitching the ball especially well these days, but the club can still glove it a little bit. Among the 15 National League ball clubs, the Reds rank fourth in errors committed, fifth in Defensive Runs Saved, fifth in Ultimate Zone Rating, and seventh in ‘Def’, FanGraphs’ all-encompassing defensive metric. In sum, the Reds are a better-than-average group in the field.

Before we explore the Reds’ individual defenders and their chances of winning a Gold Glove, remember that managers and coaches account for 75 percent of the Gold Glove vote, with the other 25 percent coming from the SABR defensive index.

All statistics are through Wednesday’s games.

An Excellent Chance: Billy Hamilton

*Hamilton’s defensive prowess stands out when put in context with the 32 other NL outfielders that meet FanGraphs’ minimum innings requirement:

Def DRS UZR Errors Assists
Hamilton 15.8 / 1st 7 / T-8th 14.2 / 2nd 0 / T-1st 7 / T-5th
NL leader 16 16.7 11

Among NL center fielders, Hamilton’s defensive mastery is put on full display: first in Def and UZR by a landslide; tied for first in errors; second in DRS; and tied for second in assists.

Visually, Hamilton routinely makes the extraordinary appear normal. He can make diving catches moving to his right or to his left. Over-the-shoulder catches are no sweat, either.

Hamilton is also capable of getting his Wright Brothers on:

[mlbvideo id=”331935183″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

And the likely Gold Glove winners in the outfield are…Hamilton, the Cardinals’ Jason Heyward — which would be Heyward’s third Gold Glove — and either the Diamondbacks’ A.J. Pollock or the Pirates’ Starling Marte.

A Decent Chance: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Todd Frazier

*Votto has tough battle at first base with the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt. Among 10 qualified NL first basemen, Goldschmidt is first in DRS (Votto is seventh); tied for second in errors with two (Votto is ninth with six errors); third in UZR (Votto is second); and fifth in Def (Votto is third). That may not sound like much separation, but Goldschmidt leads Votto 14-3 in DRS, and the differences between Votto and Goldschmidt in UZR and Def are much closer than in DRS.

The Giants’ Brandon Belt tops the charts in UZR and Def and ranks fourth in DRS, but Belt could lose points because he’s also made 13 starts in left field this season.

And the likely Gold Glove winner is…Goldschmidt.

*Phillips, who has been both a steady and an occasionally sensational presence at second base for a decade in Cincinnati, is a four-time Gold Glove winner (2008, 2010-11, 2013). If Dat Dude garners a fifth golden mitt, he will become the seventh second basemen ever with at least five Gold Gloves, a group that includes Joe Morgan (five Gold Gloves) and one that is headlined by Roberto Alomar’s 10 Gold Gloves.

A fifth Gold Glove for Phillips looks unlikely this year, but the achievement is not out of reach. Phillips is tied for third among 10 qualified NL second basemen in DRS (Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks is first); ranks fifth in UZR (Addison Russell of the Cubs is first) and Def (Russell is first); and Phillips’ six errors are tied for sixth in the NL (Joe Panik of the Giants is first with two errors).

And the likely Gold Glove winner is…the Marlins’ Dee Gordon. Gordon doesn’t lead any of the aforementioned categories, but he is second in UZR and Def, tied for third in errors, and is tied for third in DRS. Also, Russell recently switched over to shortstop, which will likely take the 21-year-old out of the running at second base. If Phillips finishes strong, look out. He has the name recognition, and his near-constant stream of highlight plays has the potential to stick in the minds of managers and coaches.

*Frazier faces an uphill climb to unseat Nolan Arenado, the Rockies’ defensive wiz aiming for his third straight Gold Glove.

Note: Statistics among eight qualified NL third basemen.

Player Def DRS UZR Errors (Total)
Nolan Arenado 1st 1st 1st 7th (13)
Matt Duffy 2nd 2nd 2nd T-4th (9)
Todd Frazier 3rd 4th 3rd T-8th (14)

Arenado has more than double the DRS and UZR scores of Duffy (the Giants’ rookie third baseman), and the gap is very wide in Def, too.

And the likely Gold Glove winner is…Arenado. Not only do the numbers prop up the 24-year-old’s case, but the eye test serves Arenado well, too.

No Chance: Jay Bruce, Marlon Byrd, and everyone else

*Jay Bruce is still a very good defender, he just isn’t quite Gold Glove-worthy. The Reds’ regular right fielder has recorded just one error on the season, is tied for 10th among qualified NL outfielders in DRS, and is 14th in UZR. Bruce also ranks fifth among NL right fielders in Def.

*As for Marlon Byrd, he’s been below-average to average. The Reds’ everyday left fielder is error-free, but he’s way down the totem pole in outfield assists (two), UZR (27th), and Def (-8.7) while his DRS of zero is a little below par.

*At catcher, the Reds have been splitting time between Brayan Pena and Tucker Barnhart — each of whom rank negatively in terms of DRS — most of the season, which automatically puts the Reds out of the running. The award is always Yadier Molina’s to lose — the Cardinals’ backstop has won the award in seven consecutive years — but traditional, advanced, and pitch framing stats all smile upon the Giants’ Buster Posey, so he is my pick to win.

*Shortstop is similar to catcher; Eugenio Suarez and the injured Zack Cozart have virtually the same number of starts with 54 and 52, respectively. Cozart’s numbers were strong prior to his gruesome knee injury, but with Andrelton Simmons, the two-time reigning winner at shortstop for the Braves, enjoying another strong season, it would’ve been difficult for Cozy to knock off the champ. Simmons is my pick to win, despite admirable defensive play from the Giants’ Brandon Crawford and the Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria.

*I won’t pretend to know who the NL’s top fielding pitcher is, but the DRS numbers favor the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, and the Giants’ Mike Leake.

10 Responses

  1. Kurt Frost

    Hamilton doesn’t hit well enough to win.

  2. Lord Oracle (@LordOracle22)

    this is one thing where i believe stats are way overused. if brandon phillips and bp dont win the gold glove i mean whats honestly the point of the award?

    • pinson343

      I agree, though I don’t think it’s about stats. The coaches and managers vote on this, and a lot of them don’t like BP’s flashy style. This is how people like Darwin Barney and LeMaheiu have won the award.

      One year that BP won, I think he was helped by stats that said someone else should win, because the managers/coaches who disliked BP disliked the stats even more.

      I want to know what managers and coaches have not voted for BP. I’m betting the Pirates and Cardinals (under LaRussa anyway) have people not voting for him.
      The process should be transparent – why should it be kept private ?
      Over time this might make it less political.

  3. Greg Dewhurst

    Votto! Are you kidding! He’s afraid of the baseball! Did you see see his lame attempt to cut the ball from CF in the 5th tonight! He never gets in front of anything that will potentially mar his mug. Shame on FSN for not calling him out! Like watching Cleveland announcers make excuses for their players. Pathetic. A spade is a spade. – be objective!