MLB announced this year’s Rawlings Gold Glove winners last night, rewarding the top defensive players in baseball as voted on by managers and coaches. The New York Yankees had two winners: Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.
Teixeira won his fifth Gold Glove in eight years, beating out Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox/L.A. Dodgers and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals. All three are fantastic defenders, and each would have been a valid choice, but Teixeira came home with the hardware based on his great range, scooping ability, and flashy diving plays. All you have to do is look at Teixeira’s MLB.com highlights page to see how many spectacular plays he made this season.
While the eyes certainly back up Teixeira’s awards, so do the defensive metrics, advanced and traditional alike. For one thing, he had a .999 fielding percentage, the best of his career. But fielding percentage doesn’t tell the whole story, especially for first basemen. Luckily, advanced defensive metrics say the same thing.
Teixeira had a 12.7 UZR/150 (which stands for Ultimate Zone Rating) via Fangraphs, 1.0 defensive WAR on Baseball Reference (the best of his career), and 8.1 fielding runs above average on Baseball Prospectus. In Tom Tango’s “Fan Scouting Report”, in which fans rate the various aspects of a player’s defense, Teixeira scored a 60 out of 100 (a better score than it looks), placing him 4th among all first basemen and 1st among those in the AL.
Robinson Cano also won a Gold Glove at second base, the second of his career, beating out Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and Seattle’s Dustin Ackley. Despite the impression among many fans that Cano is lazy, he was spectacular in the field this year, showing off impressive range and ridiculous arm strength for a second baseman. Over and over this year, he would impress me with his signature play, where he ranges to his right and throws basically over his shoulder to make the play. You can see a great example of the play here.
As far as the numbers go, Cano was great as well. He had a .992 fielding percentage, the best of his career. He backed that up with impressive advanced metric ratings: a 9.2 UZR/150 (Fangraphs), 1.9 dWAR (Baseball Reference), and 8.0 FRAA (Baseball Prospectus). He was also very strong in the Fans Scouting Report, placing 3rd among all 2nd basemen and 1st in the AL with a 74/100 rating.
Overall, both Teixeira and Cano’s Gold Gloves were well deserved no matter how you look at it. Let’s hope they both continue to add value to the team both offensively and defensively for years to come.