The LA Angels fell short of the playoffs this year, but there were a few defensive bright spots for the team. Four players were selected as finalists to win a Gold Glove Award at their respected positions. The winners were announced on Tuesday evening.
The LA Angels and their fans tuned in Tuesday night as Major League Baseball announced the winners of the 60th Annual Gold Glove Awards. Coaching staffs from all teams vote on the winners at each position in their perspective leagues and are not allowed to vote for their own players.
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The MLB now places 25% of the voting process on SABR’s SDI metric, which stands for SABR Defensive Index. The rule started in 2013, it gives the voting process a revolutionary approach, thanks to the increased use of analytics in baseball.
The Angels were tied for 2nd in the American League, producing four Gold Glove Award finalists: Andrelton Simmons, Kole Calhoun, Martin Maldonado, and Justin Upton. With that being said, let’s take a look at the outcomes at Catcher, Shortstop, Left Field, and Right Field.
The winner of the American League Gold Glove for the catcher position was the Angels’ very own, Martin Maldonado. He achieved the award in his first season as a full-time catcher, after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason. Maldonado played in 138 games, the most of any catcher this season, and led the American League in Defensive Runs Saved(10), while also throwing out the most runners (29).
He faced stiff competition, going against 4-time Gold Glove Winner, Salvador Perez, as well as Yan Gomes, who led the three finalists with a caught stealing percentage of 42.1%. It looked like Maldonado was huge underdog against Perez, but his defensive metrics and cannon of an arm led him to his first career Gold Glove Award.
After a tough 2016 season battling injuries, as well as getting accostomed to a new organization, Andrelton Simmons bounced back in 2017. His season was none other than extraordinary, as he led the entire league in DRS (32) and led all shortstops in UZR (15.6). Both are components of the SDI criteria.
Although his season was one to remember, competition was fierce, as Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor was fresh off of his 2016 Gold Glove, as well as the 2016 Platinum Award (an award given to 1 player in the American League and 1 in the National League). The other finalist was Texas Rangers’ shortstop, Elvis Andrus. In the end, Andrelton Simmons was awarded his 3rd career Gold Glove Award (1st with the Angels). Simmons is also a front runner for the 2017 Platinum Award, which will be announced November 10th.
The American League finalists in Left Field were Brett Gardner, Alex Gordon, and Justin Upton. The two frontrunners were Gordon, with 4 Gold Glove Awards, and Gardner with 1. Upton had never won the award, but posted impressive DRS (8) and UZR (3.5). He also had 8 outfield assists.
It was a great season for Upton, but it looked like a two-man race from the beginning. Alex Gordon won the award for the 5th time, as he led the three candidates in UZR (11.5). Gardner also made a great case, as he led the three in DRS (17) and fielding percentage (1.000).
The 4th Angels’ finalist for a Gold Glove Award was Kole Calhoun. The right fielder had previously won the award in 2015, and was competing against Mookie Betts (also with 1 Gold Glove), and New York Yankees’ rookie sensation, Aaron Judge. Comparing the three finalists, Calhoun had the edge in assists (10) and fielding percentage (.988). Mookie Betts separated himself though, with DRS (31) and UZR (20.5), compared to Calhoun’s DRS (2) and UZR (8.5), and Judge’s DRS (9) and UZR (6.1). Betts won the award for the 2nd consecutive season.
The American League did not disappoint this year, with at least one player at each position having a Gold Glove on their résumé before 2017, aside from pitcher and center field. The Angels’ organization has to be excited for all 4 finalists, especially the winners, Andrelton Simmons and Martin Maldonado.
Stay tuned for the results of the Platinum Glove Award announcement on Thursday, as it looks like Mookie Betts and Byron Buxton will arguably be the toughest competition to Andrelton Simmons.