2015 Gold Glove Awards: 2nd Base

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 2nd basemen 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 2nd Base 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.

Double Plays: This is another simpler statistic, but they have a huge impact on the game. Double plays take out an active baserunner which can save multiple runs in the process.  Most players can turn routine double plays, but being a league leader in the category requires elite positioning and playmaking ability.  

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 Ian Kinsler simply make more plays than weaker ones like Johnny Giavotella.

Real zone rating: RZR is an advanced statistic that shows how well a player defends their territory.  It’s the percentage of balls feilded within a players’ zone + the number of balls fielded outside of their, divided by the total number of opportunities in their zone.  This is statistic ranks right up there for me along with range factor.

Without Further ado, here are my American League and National League gold glove picks for 2nd Base.  I picked 10 finalists 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.

2B (AL) TO DP RF RZR
B Dozier 759 111 4.94 0.771
J Altuve 664 81 4.49 0.785
I Kinsler 714 109 4.85 0.823
R Cano 690 104 4.72 0.754
J Kipnis 514 69 4.27 0.8
L Forsythe 463 43 3.88 0.698
O Infante 513 67 4.35 0.847
R Odor 557 97 4.98 0.767
C Sanchez 497 83 4.49 0.759
E Sogard 436 56 5.06 0.801
B Dozier 1 1 3 6 11
J Altuve 4 6 6 5 21
I Kinsler 2 2 4 2 10
R Cano 3 3 5 9 20
J Kipnis 6 7 9 4 26
L Forsythe 9 10 10 10 39
O Infante 7 8 8 1 24
R Odor 5 4 2 7 18
C Sanchez 8 5 6 8 27
E Sogard 10 9 1 3 23

Overall Analysis: Ian Kinsler had another excellent defensive season.  Robinson Cano didn’t just regress with his bat, his glove work was weaker too.  Logan Forsythe exemplifies why I hate WAR.  His defensive numbers are poor accross the board yet he’s 7th among major league 2nd baseman (minimum 500 innings at 2B) in dWAR.

Curious Candidate: If Eric Sogard played at second base all year, he would probably be my pick for the award.  The guy ranks number 1 in range factor and is 3rd in real zone rating.  He’s a darkhorse candidate for next year’s gold glove.  Hopefully he can do some work at the plate too to get some recognition.

Top 3 Scorers: 1) Ian Kinser – 10 points

2) Brian Dozier – 11 points

3) Rogned Odor – 18 points

My pick: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers – This was a pretty easy selection for me.  Kinsler had the best score among the second baseman and did well in every category.  He played second base all year too which nullifies Dozier’s best categories.  He also did really well in the advanced stats.  Technically Sogard was better in the advanced metric department, but the disparity in total outs was way too large to ignore.

2B (NL) TO DP RF RZR
DJ LeMahieu 752 120 5.27 0.786
K Wong 722 107 5.08 0.806
D Gordon 727 111 5.15 0.765
B Phillips 655 79 4.8 0.789
N Walker 654 103 5.04 0.751
J Peterson 682 109 4.44 0.785
C Owings 443 65 4.34 0.753
J Panik 459 64 4.9 0.787
S Gennett 449 71 4.93 0.801
A Russell 377 47 4.55 0.855
DJ LeMahieu 1 1 1 6 9
K Wong 3 4 3 2 12
D Gordon 2 2 2 8 14
B Phillips 5 6 7 4 22
N Walker 6 5 4 10 25
J Peterson 4 3 9 7 23
C Owings 9 8 10 9 36
J Panik 7 9 6 5 27
S Gennett 8 7 5 3 23
A Russell 10 10 8 1 29

Overall Analysis: Like the American league, there’s no real clear cut winner for 2nd baseman.  There appears to be a clear divide among contenders and pretenders as three candidates stood out among the crowd.  I always enjoyed watching Joe Panik play, but I guess his numbers at 2nd base aren’t as good as what I thought they would be.

Curious Candidate: Addison Russell, like teammate Anthony Rizzo, didn’t score as well as I thought he would.  Unlike Rizzo, Russell’s score is more attributable to playing time than performance.  His defensive duties were divided between short and second, which definitely ate into his opportunities.

Top 3 scorers: 1) DJ LeMahieu – 9 points

2) Kolten Wong – 12 points

3) Dee Gordon – 14 points

My Pick: DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies – LeMahieu’s defense can get overlooked because he plays on the same team as defensive stud Nolan Arenado.  LeMahieu’s real zone rating was just average but he was tops in all of the other categories which makes him my pick.  Wong was a little better in the advanced stats, but he didn’t drastically outperform LeMahieu so I’m going with the Rocky.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  Please let me know what you think of my writing/opinions, and feel free to post your gold glove 2nd baseman picks in the comments below.

By: Milap Mehta

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