The 2022 season didn’t contain a lot of fun. But if there was one thing that was fun throughout the year was watching team after team think that they somehow could try to take an extra base on Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino and just fail miserably.

Aquino was among the worst hitters in baseball last season. He hit .197/.246/.363 with 101 strikeouts in just 276 plate appearances. On many teams that simply wasn’t going to be good enough to stick around, but between trades and injuries, Aquino stuck on the roster. The bat didn’t help the pitching staff at all, but his defense most certainly did.

Defensive metrics can still be a bit iffy. There are a lot of different ones that try to parse out just how good a defender was. Some systems use a grid based layout on the field and people who then review the video and track where the ball was fielded at along with what type of batted ball it was. Some systems are using the Hawkeye data to figure out the value of each play. All of some usefulness to them, but none of them should be viewed as “the real answer”. The best idea is to look at all of them and see what they’re saying.

It’s quite clear, though, that Aristides Aquino was among the most valuable defenders in baseball. He showed good range in the outfield, but more than that, his arm simply changed games. Fangraphs “ARM” rating has Aquino at the top of the leaderboard among outfielders in value and he did so despite just 607.1 innings. Myles Straw, who was in second, played in 1309 innings this season. Among all outfielders with at least 250 innings played, Aquino was at the top of the leaderboard in Defensive Runs Saved, with 20. That just edged out Michael Taylor of the Kansas City Royals and Daulton Varsho of the Arizona Diamondbacks who were at 19 defensive runs saved. Only nine players topped 9 defensive runs saved on the season. Both Varsho and Taylor were named this afternoon as Gold Glove finalists. Aristides Aquino was not.

A few years ago the way that Gold Gloves were decided changed. It used to just be voting from managers and coaches around the league. But they’ve since added in defensive metrics as a part of the criteria along with the votes from managers and players. With Aquino only playing 79 games in the outfield and only getting 66 starts in right field it certainly could be that not enough managers and coaches saw him play this season and while they *could* have put some research into the topic when they got their ballots, they probably didn’t spend much time doing so given that Juan Soto was named as one of the finalists for right field and he was below-average in every single defensive metric I could find.

Not sure that an other Reds fielder deserved to be nominated for a Gold Glove, but no Red made the finalist lists.

23 Responses

  1. LDS

    Aquino played for the Reds. That, in and of itself, handicapped his prospects.

  2. Old-school

    Same reason a hitter with 250 at bats doesn’t qualify for the batting title or a starting pitcher who throws 82 innings doesn’t qualify for the Cy young. Being Outstanding occasionally doesn’t earn a best in class award.

    • Chris

      Valid point, except for in this instance, he still had 20 defensive runs saved, which was more than any other player. A better example would be saying someone didn’t win the HR title because even though they had the most HR’s, they didn’t have enough AB’s. Average and ERA, makes sense, but not in this category when runs saved is a key factor.

      • Old-school

        Except home runs cant go down the more you play. ERA and averages can go down and do as sample size increases. A reliever can blow his ERA in a bad week. Sample size is crucial and only starting less than half your teams game eliminates eligibility. Defensive runs Saved is a calculation that can go down with poor performance as well so sample size matters. Aquino could have a dreadful week on a west coast road trip but he never played and skipped 2 months. He could have pulled a Freidl in Chicago with the high sky and wind. You gotta be a regular every day starter to win a big time MLB year end award.

  3. Magnum 44

    Thank God he wasn’t that would justify the Castellinis even more reason to keep him around……..

  4. Melvin

    A full season gets him a gold glove. It wouldn’t be close. May never happen or maybe even shouldn’t happen. I still have faith that there are still a button or two that needs to be found and pushed to get the most out of him offensively. Probably will be on another team at this point. I believe he’s only played in the Reds organization. Perhaps another organization would be more successful and beneficial to him. Again, as far as the gold glove goes, offense and popularity shouldn’t be a factor but it’s pretty obvious that they do at least in years past. The Reds as a team by the way were pretty poor defensively in my view.

    • Chris Holbert

      Other teams had a chance to have him, He was DFA and no one showed any interest in him.

  5. Stock

    Unfortunately, GG winners need to hit. Rafael Palmerio won a Gold Glove in 1999 when he played 128 games at DH and 28 at 1B. Wose yet in those 28 games his defensive WAR was -15.3. This made him one of the 20 worst defensive players in 1999. But he did finish 5th in the MVP voting.

    Derek Jeter won the gold glove in 2005 even though he had a defensive WAR of -8.1. Of course he also finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting.

    • Harry Stoner

      I forgot that Palmeiro was also one of the “20 worst liars” in MLB history, too.

      There could be a special wing at the HoF for him, Rose, Bonds, Bregman etc.
      That way they can at least find their way into Cooperstown.

    • Rut

      Exactly — despite the protests otherwise, hitting does impact the GG awards.

      That is the obvious truth, and obvious absurdity of the gg awards

  6. Rcsodak

    Get a real batting coavh that actually can improve batting avgs. And a HC that has them team how to bunt

    • SOQ

      The greatest hitting mind around is Pete. Someone should direct Aquino to seek him out —privately

  7. Doug

    Perhaps it’s simply because he did not qualify. Infielders and outfielders must have played at least 698 innings through the team’s 138th game.

  8. Luke J

    I mean, Juan Soto is a finalist. That should tell you everything you need to know about how big a sham gold gloves are. Even if you don’t buy the defensive metrics, he is literally the bottom 1% in outs above average. He is one of, if not the worst rightfielder in baseball, but is a finalist. Defensive ability clearly has nothing to do with the award.

  9. Fanman

    There is a handful of individuals that when they speak, I stop everything I am doing and just listen. Joe Morgan, Marty Brennaman, Sparky and of course, PETE!!

  10. JB

    Billy Hamilton should have won a GG in the past and didn’t. Maybe even Duvall in the year he and Billy kept going back and forth throwing runners out. It’s the Reds. The organization gets no respect and why should they. Castellinis have run this organization in the ground. Don’t worry we still have another winter and next year of great moments in Reds baseball.

  11. AMDG

    It used to be the MVP was awarded to the best hitter on the team with the best record.

    And the Gold Glove was awarded to the best hitter at a given position, or, to a great defender who was also had a very good hitting year.

    I’ve always thought the Gold Glove should go to the best defensive player, but that’s generally not how it is awarded.

    Since Aquino is not a good hitter, he really has no chance to win a Gold Glove – regardless of how well he plays on the field.

  12. TR

    Not to have AA as even a Gold Glove finalist means, to me, that the judges are not very good evaluators of defensive talent.

  13. Jim Delaney

    The GG selection process has been and is still flawed. Along with Aquino being slighted, Ranger Suarez if the Phillies wasn’t a finalist either. Suarez was first in every defensive metric for pitchers and wasn’t selected as a finalist…

  14. jmb

    He’s got the tools. We’re still waiting to see whether he can put it all together, and whether he can be consistent.