Two members of the Toronto Blue Jays have been nominated for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which is awarded annually to the best defender at each position.
Kevin Pillar has earned his second consecutive nomination as he continues to be one of the game’s most consistent producers of highlight-reel grabs. Joining him is starter R.A. Dickey, who is quietly one of the better fielding pitchers in baseball.
Pillar did not take the steps offensively that some had hoped for in his second year as a full-time starter, but he developed even further as a centre-fielder. Improving upon his 2015 was no small task either, given the high bar he’d set for himself.
The 27-year-old had 21 Defensive Runs Saved, per FanGraphs, almost matching his 22 from last season despite playing nearly 100 fewer innings. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating in runs above average) jumped from 15.2 last year to a very impressive mark of 21.4 in 2016. Even without much value coming from his bat, Pillar was able to post a 3.2 WAR.
Dickey, on the other hand, already has a Gold Glove on his mantle from 2013 with the Blue Jays — the first year after he was traded over from New York as the National League Cy Young Award winner. Pitcher defence isn’t the most attention-grabbing tool in all of baseball, but as former Blue Jay Mark Buehrle showed for many years, it does hold great value. Especially for older pitchers who do not (or can not) lean on their velocity to create outs.
Defensive metrics show that Dickey posted a DRS of 6 this season — in his Gold Glove season, he had seven. The knuckler also committed just one error and allowed only two base runners to steal on him all season long.