2015 Gold Glove Awards: Catcher

Defense is one of the most difficult aspects of the game to judge.  Almost every talented athlete in the field makes multiple web gems in the year, so it’s hard to tell which one of them are really the best defenders.  Baseball writers often fail to make the extra effort to judge defense, and this resulted in guys like Derek Jeter getting gold gloves.  This is my effort to objectively rank the defensive efforts of the 2015 season.

Here are the statistics I used for catchers and the explanation for why I chose each statistic:

Total Outs: This is a really basic statistic and shouldn’t be the deciding factor for gold glove voting.  My purpose for using the statistic is to resolve the quantity vs. quality issues.  Guys who played catcher a lot longer were more valuable overall than guys who might have played slightly better on a per inning basis, but played in considerably fewer games.  

Range Factor: This is a simpler advanced statistic (weird phrasing but true when you think about it) that’s one of my favorites.  This statistic shows how many outs a player creates for every 9 innings played.  Better defensive players like Yadier Molina simply make more plays than weaker ones like Nick Hundley.

Caught Stealing %: The ability to get baserunners out is one of the most standout abilities of catchers.  Not only do catchers with good arms get more outs, but they prevent runners from getting into scoring position which saves a lot of runs.  Obviously this isn’t the only aspect of catching, but it’s a very important one.

True Catcher ERA: I don’t want to call this my proprietary statistic since I’m sure others use it, but it’s not very common.  This is simply the catcher’s actual era minus the team’s ERA.  This statistic really shows if pitchers performed better with these guys behind the plate.  Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt had a nearly identical Catcher ERA (RM = 3.88, SV = 3.81).  However, the Blue Jays ERA was actually higher with Martin than other catchers, while Vogt significantly lowered the athletics ERA.  True Catcher ERA doesn’t give unfair advantages to players who just had better pitching staffs.

Without Further ado, here are my American League and National League gold glove picks for catcher.  I picked 10 finalists (AL Catcher is the only one I used 11 for.  Why?  I don’t know) that I thought had a realistic chance of getting nominated at their positions and scored them based on the above criteria.  I’ll start with the AL gold glove.

Catcher (AL) TO RF CS% True CERA
S Perez 1064 8.03 0.305 -0.09
K Suzuki 860 7.06 0.149 -0.09
B McCann 1049 9.06 0.359 -0.06
R Martin 869 7.87 0.444 0.08
J McCann 777 7.41 0.406 0.03
M Zunino 853 8.35 0.344 -0.12
J Castro 849 8.55 0.364 -0.06
T Flowers 940 9.63 0.254 -0.29
C Joseph 794 8.65 0.327 -0.39
S Vogt 699 7.83 0.317 -0.23
Y Gomes 804 9.05 0.328 -0.13
S Perez 1 7 9 6 23
K Suzuki 5 11 11 6 33
B McCann 2 2 4 8 16
R Martin 4 8 1 11 24
J McCann 10 10 2 10 32
M Zunino 6 6 5 5 22
J Castro 7 5 3 8 23
T Flowers 3 1 10 2 16
C Joseph 9 4 7 1 21
S Vogt 11 9 8 3 31
Y Gomes 8 3 6 4 21

Overall observations: Salvador Perez, the gold glove winner for the past 2 years, did was middle of the pack statistically.  He played the most innings out of American league catchers so he created the most outs, but didn’t realy do well anywhere else.

Curious Candidate: Brian McCann, who is widely regarded as a poor defensive player is actually a legitimate gold glove candidate.  He ranks well among AL catchers in every category and should have legitimate consideration.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Brian McCann & Tyler Flowers – 16 points

3) Caleb Joseph & Yan Gomes – 21 points

My Pick: Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox – There is a decent gap between Flowers+McCann and the rest of the candidates so it came down to those 2 for me.  Both Flowers and McCann have a major weakness in a critical category (Caught Stealing & True Catcher ERA respectively).  Flowers was dominant in 2 categories and there is a big gap between he and McCann in McCann’s best category.

Catcher (NL) TO RF CS% True CERA
Y Molina 1120 8.77 0.413 -0.14
F Cervelli 1074 8.79 0.223 0.29
W Ramos 1103 9.21 0.444 -0.17
D Norris 1049 9.07 0.344 0.07
JT Realmuto 882 7.74 0.271 -0.29
B Posey 838 8.36 0.361 -0.13
Y Grandal 871 8.86 0.291 -0.08
N Hundley 694 7.21 0.342 0.62
M Montero 875 9.55 0.202 0.02
J Lucroy 680 8.21 0.278 -0.1
Y Molina 1 6 2 3 12
F Cervelli 3 5 9 9 26
W Ramos 2 2 1 2 7
D Norris 4 3 4 8 19
JT Realmuto 5 9 8 1 23
B Posey 8 7 3 4 22
Y Grandal 7 4 6 6 23
N Hundley 9 10 5 10 34
M Montero 6 1 10 7 24
J Lucroy 10 8 7 5 30

Overall Observations: The National League clearly has the 2 best defensive catchers.  If Yadier Molina played in the American League, he would no doubt win the award.  He very well could win it again this year on name value, but he’s not the right pick.

Surprising Result: Wilson Ramos had an amazing year behind the plate.  There is a decent gap between he and Yadier Molina in scoring which I did not expect at all.  He’s known as a pretty good catcher, but who would’ve thought that he’d separate himself from Molina by so much?

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Wilson Ramos – 7 points

2) Yadier Molina – 12 points

3) Derek Norris – 19 points

My Pick: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals – This is an easy one for me.  The guy finished in the top 2 in every category.  There were no deficiencies in his game behind the plate.  He created a ton of outs, nailed runners trying to steal, and had great success in pitch framing.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Please let me know what you think of my writing + opinions, and feel free to leave your Gold Glove catcher picks in the comments below.

By: Milap Mehta

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