Three Blue Jays announced as Gold Glove finalists
The Toronto Blue Jays season was a success for many reasons and defence was a big part of that. Now, they are getting noticed for it. The 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists were announced on Thursday afternoon and three Blue Jays’ players made the cut.
Kevin Pillar, Russell Martin and Mark Buehrle all were revealed as finalists today, and to little surprise. Martin won the award in 2007, Buehrle has won it four times and Pillar rose to the spotlight this season for his incredible defensive prowess.
The Jays haven’t had much success as Gold Glove winners in the past, though. Coming into this year, R.A. Dickey has the only award in the past eight seasons. The last position player to win was way back in 2006, when Vernon Wells won one of his three consecutive Gold Gloves.
So it’s been awhile, but the team has a very good chance of snagging at least one of these awards this year. The winners will be announced on Nov. 10.
Mark Buehrle – Pitcher
Buehrle is widely-regarded as one of the best slick-fielding pitchers in the game. And that’s reflected in his four career Gold Gloves, which came in consecutive years 2009-2012.
Saying that, Buehrle’s defensive numbers this year are considerably lower than they were during his four wins. That probably says more about how good he was then, though, than his skills now.
One notable stat, however, is that Buehrle did not give up any stolen bases this season. Two runners tried, but both were unsuccessful (see Martin profile below.) This was the only season in Buehrle’s career that he didn’t give up a stolen base. He also picked off three runners during the year. Both those numbers are much better than the other two candidates, Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel.
Toronto Blue Jays
But take a look at some of Buehrle’s other numbers: range factor per game (1.25), fielding percentage (.930) and defensive runs saved above average (5). Good numbers….but not Keuchel good numbers. The Houston Astros’ ace is the defending champion for this award and posted very impressive numbers: .986 fielding percentage, 2.15 range factor per game and an outstanding 13 defensive runs saved above average.
Another good defensive season from one of the most likeable Blue Jays, but my prediction is he won’t win the award this year.
Russell Martin – Catcher
Martin had a weird season defensively. He led the American League with 19 passed balls this year, far ahead of his previous career high of 9. The high number is largely due to catching Dickey’s unpredictable knuckleball for 19 games this season.
But look beyond that and Martin comes off looking good. The Canadian catcher led the AL by throwing out 32 baserunners – that’s 44.4 per cent, also the most among starting catchers.
Martin also made just four errors and posted a 7.43 range factor per game.
At the least, it’s one of the best defensive seasons from a Blue Jays catcher in years. At best, it’s worthy of the team’s first Gold Glove win by a catcher.
But Martin will face tough competition from Salvador Perez and Jason Castro.
Kevin Pillar – Centre Field
And now time to talk about everybody’s favourite defensive Blue Jay. Pillar became a household name in 2015, frequenting the highlight reels. He also emerged as a fan favourite by sacrificing his body every day, saving runs for his pitchers.
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And now he is being rewarded for it. One thing we do know about the centre-field gold glove: someone not named Adam Jones will win it for the first time since 2011. If not Pillar, it will be Kevin Kiermaier or Mike Trout.
Pillar posted 14 defensive runs saved above average (DRS) this season, good for fourth-best. He was second among AL centre-fielders with a 2.89 range factor per game – ahead of both Kiermaier and Trout.
Ask most Blue Jays’ fans and they will say Pillar should undoubtedly win the Gold Glove. There’s no denying he was an outstanding centre-fielder this season and will garner many votes for the award. But Kiermaier was just that much better. The Tampa Bay Rays’ outfielder posted 42 DRS this season (42!!!). No one else even put up half that number.
But regardless of the results, an incredible year in the field for Pillar and he would almost certainly win the award for coolest-looking catches, if that was a thing.
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