The LA Angels team defense has been very good the past two seasons and a major reason why is that they have so many amazing Gold Glove Caliber players. Now the rest of baseball may be finding this out.
The Gold Glove nominations were announced Thursday and four LA Angels players were nominated at their respective positions. Andrelton Simmons was nominated once again for a Gold Glove at shortstop. Simba has already won the award four times including the last two seasons. Simmons was injured and missed 60 games this season, but did a great job when he was in the line-up. There is no better shortstop than him in the American League when he is healthy. His injury may keep him from a third straight Gold Glove, but we will see when the final voting comes in.
Kole Calhoun has long been known for his defense and his cannon that is disguised as his left arm, this year was no different. Calhoun had seven outfield assists and had a .982 fielding percentage both of which are very good numbers. Calhoun has only won the award one time, in 2015, but this is his fifth nomination and he could take home the hardware in what likely will be his last season of roaming right field in Anaheim (I hope not). Mookie Betts has won the last three Gold Gloves, but I think Calhoun could break that string this year.
The proverbial bridesmaid in the Gold Glove race is center fielder Mike Trout. Trout has now been nominated four times for the award but has yet to win one. Part of it is that there is some stiff competition in centerfield in the American League as Kevin Kiermaier has won two of the past four years and there is also guys like Byron Buxton and Jackie Bradley Jr.who have also won the award the last two seasons. Trout is amazing in the outfield as we have witnessed many home run robberies in the past eight seasons. He also gets to many balls that others cannot.
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This season Trout could breakthrough with a .987 fielding percentage with five outfield assists. Trout made only four errors in 301 chances, which is very good. However, Trout had two errorless season in 2015 and 2018 and failed to bring home the hardware so this may not be a very telling stat in the voting. Mike Trout has won so many awards during his career and should add a third MVP this season, but this is one trophy that has eluded him. Hopefully that will change.
The one surprise candidate in the Gold Glove nominees is Angel third baseman David Fletcher. This partly because Fletcher played all over the place. In total Fletcher played five different positions for the Angels in 2019 including third base where he played 90 games (the most of any of his positions). Fletcher also played 42 games at second, 39 games at shortstop, and 21 games in left field. He also played two games in right field, but that was because the Angels already had a Gold Glove winner there in Calhoun.
If there was an award for a utility Gold Glove, Fletcher would win it heads down as there is probably not a more versatile player in the American League. However, I don’t expect to see him win it for third base, not because he was not good there, as he was stellar. His sample size at third does not compare to the other candidates in the race, Alex Bregman, and Matt Chapman. In the future though you could see Fletcher win this award.
My honest predictions taking the homerism out of it is that Simmons and Trout have the best chance to win a Gold Gloves this season. However, in my honest opinion none of the Angel candidates will take home the hardware as much as I ant them to. If I had to pick one Angel player that would surprise me and win the award it would be Simmons because he is well known by all, but we will have to just wait and see.
The bottom line is the Angels have the makings of a great defense and I think if they can sure up the catching position through a trade or free agency and Tommy La Stella comes back strong at second base the Angels will have one of the best defenses in baseball in 2020. The one other void potentially is right field with Calhoun’s future in Anaheim in limbo. Whoever does replace him in right field if he is allowed to walk away, will place in comparison to Calhoun.
Brian Goodwin is an adequate defender and Jo Adell will be very good when he is called up, but neither compare to Calhoun. Mike Trout could expand his role in center to cover for whoever the Angels play in right field. Balls he might have once let go knowing Calhoun had his back and would get to, he might now try to go after to make sure the plays are made, at least until Goodwin and Adell prove they can hold their own in right field.
Let’s hope for the best when the final voting is tabulated in this year’s Gold Glove races, but don’t be expecting too much.