When the Toronto Blue Jays bolstered their roster this past season by adding defensive stalwarts Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho to their lineup, it certainly improved their outfield defence tremendously as a result. Added to the Gold Glove-calibre defence of Matt Chapman at third and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first in the infield, it was believed that their overall defensive game was now among the league’s best during the 2023 season.
Well on Friday, that belief was confirmed as the Blue Jays were named the winner of the 2023 Rawlings Gold Glove Team Award for the American League, with the Milwaukee Brewers taking home the honours for the National League. This was the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jays were recipients of the award.
The presentation of the Gold Glove Team Award began in 2020 when Rawlings decided to expand the recognition of defensive excellence beyond just individual players. As a result, the Gold Glove Team Award was implemented to recognize the best team defence in both the American and National Leagues over the course of the MLB regular season.
Previous winners in the American League include the Cleveland Indians (2020), Houston Astros (2021) and New York Yankees (2022). In the National League, the Chicago Cubs took home the inaugural award in 2020, while the St. Louis Cardinals remain the only two-time winner of the award, taking home the honours in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022.
It may not actually come as a surprise that the Jays were able to achieve such a feat. After all, they had five players who were finalists for the 2023 Gold Glove Award (for individuals), including Kiermaier, Varsho, Chapman, Alejandro Kirk and José Berríos. In the end, Kiermaier, Chapman and Berríos were awarded Gold Gloves, with Varsho being the surprise omission despite registering a league-leading 29 DRS on the season.
So in terms of becoming more a solid defensive team, the Jays accomplished that in 2023. Now it is time for the offence to step up as well so that they can once again be a force to be reckoned with in 2024.