Tonight at 9pm on ESPN 2, the NL Gold Glove winners will be announced, and David Wright will be tuning in to see if he’s won the award for the third time, which would be his first since he won it in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008. The two other finalists include Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and Aramis Ramirez of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Unlike 2011, where Wright put together a .929 fielding percentage with 19 errors in 267 chances, the 29-year-old put together one of his overall seasons at the hot corner since being called up to Flushing in 2004. Wright finished 2012 with a career-high .974 fielding percentage, and committed only 10 errors in 384 chances. Throughout the season, we listened to Keith Hernandez rave about the improvements David made with his glove, and it really showed when we look at some more advanced defensive metrics. Some of the advanced statistics I’ll be talking about include Rtot (number of runs a player is worth based on the amount of plays he makes), Rdrs (number of defensive runs saved), and RF/9 (a player’s range factor for every 9 innings played).
In 2011, which was shortened by injury (appeared in 101 games at 3B), Wright ended with both a negative Rtot (-10) and Rdrs (-6), while his range factor was barely above the league average. Everything changed this year, as he turned around both of those negative numbers, being worth +8 runs in the Rtot department and +16 in Rdrs in 155 games played (1348.1 innings). His 2.50 RF/9 was .05 points ahead of the league average.
He looked more comfortable in the field than ever before, and I thought his throws to first base were the most consistent we’ve ever seen. A lot of times in the past, we would watch Wright make perfect throws on the run and when he didn’t have time to think, but throw away routine plays where he had plenty of time to get the ball across the diamond. That didn’t happen this year, as he made himself a positive asset not only at the plate, but also in the field.
I didn’t get to watch Headley or Ramirez outside of the games they played against the Mets this season, but these three match up rather closely when looking at the numbers. As for Headley, he finished the year playing 159 games and 1397 innings at third base; he committed 10 errors in 425 chances, good for a .976 fielding percentage, just barely edging David’s mark. He recorded an Rtot of 10, an Rdrs of -3, while his 2.67 RF/9 beat out the league average by a hefty .22 points.
Ramirez played the least amount of time at third base out of the three finalists (143 games, 1242.1 innings), and committed only 7 errors in 300 chances, which yields him the highest fielding percentage of all, at .977. He had a positive Rtot of 7 and positive Rdrs of 4, but his RF/9 stands at 2.12, which is well below the 2.45 league average.
Out of these three, Wright is the only past winner of the award, which could end up favoring him as managers and coaches tally up their votes. I know this award isn’t always given to the best statistical fielder at each position, but after looking at the numbers, it seems like this award should go to either Wright or Headley. I can’t give my objective opinion because like I said before, I’ve barely watched Chase play in the field this year. However, it’s clear that Wright has played the best third base of his career; he’s not only turned in a large amount of sparkling plays in 2012, but has handled his business on routine plays more so than ever before, giving him a strong case to become a Gold Glove winner for the third time in his 9 year career.
Do you think Wright will be announced the NL Gold Glove winner for third base?