As the everyday second baseman (finally), McNeil will win his first Gold Glove
Since being called up to The Show in July of 2018, McNeil has quickly made a name for himself as an outstanding second baseman; playing 52 games at 2B and 1 start at 3B with only 3 errors on record through 476.2 innings at these positions.
While his Outs Above Average (OAA) ranked low in the 36th percentile in 2020, he also played at four different positions. In 2019, McNeil started 24 games at 2B (2 errors in 244.2 innings), 16 games at 3B (1 error in 154.1 innings), and 83 starts in the OF (4 errors in 671.0 innings); all while making spectacular plays at each of these positions.
And last year, McNeil continued to be utilized in a multi-position role by making 9 starts at 2B (0 errors in 68.2 innings), 9 starts at 3B (5 errors in 75.0 innings), 26 starts in LF (0 errors in 215.0 innings), and 4 starts in RF (0 errors in 30.0 innings), totaling 30 starts overall in the outfield (0 errors in 245.0 innings).
By consistently starting at one position, I think it will most likely enable his OAA to improve his overall fielding ability at second base.
Per MLB rules, the criteria for infielders to win a Gold Glove ensures that only full-time players are eligible: “must have played in the field for at least 713 total innings through his team’s 142nd game.”
Last year the 2020 finalists at the keystone were: Adam Frazier (Pittsburg Pirates), Nico Hoerner (Chicago Cubs), and Kolten Wong (St. Louis Cardinals); with Wong winning the honor in both 2019 and 2020. Wong’s OAA ranked in the 82nd percentile, which makes him McNeil’s main competition.
It’s unfortunate that after his stellar debut at the keystone position, Jeff McNeil was forced out of his natural position due to the acquisition of Robinson Cano the offseason after his debut.
However, fans have seen some incredible plays made by Jeff McNeil. And this year, with him back in his natural position, and in a full season, he should finally get his Gold Glove nod.