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No gold for McMahon in 2021

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, November 8, 2021

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Last night, the 2021 Rawlings Gold Glove winners were announced.

There were some familiar names on the list, and some new ones. For the ninth consecutive year, a Rockies third baseman was on the short list for the National League award. For the ninth consecutive year, Nolan Arenado was also a finalist. But for the first time in nine years, those weren’t the same person. Along with Arenado, the new Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon was announced as a finalist for the award.

Rawlings first awarded the Gold Glove Award to one player at every position in the MLB in 1957. The next year, it gave an Award to one player at every position per league. The format has remained mostly unchanged since. Today, to qualify for the Gold Glove, Rawlings designates minimum games played qualifications (a minimum of 713 total innings played through his teams 141st game, equating to ~7.5 innings a game in 2/3rd of a teams total games), but not on a per position basis. If a player does qualify, then he qualifies solely at the position where he played the majority of his innings defensively.

In 2021, for the ninth year in a row, Nolan Arenado took home the NL’s Gold Glove at third base.

Rockies fans will undoubtedly remember Arenado’s defense fondly, and he has done more than enough in his career to continually place himself in the Gold Glove conversation year after year. That said, McMahon’s candidacy deserves a deeper look. The narrative against him this year was not the defense he played, but rather where he played it. He met the minimum qualifications for third base, but due to his splitting time between second and third, he wasn’t solely seen as a third baseman. Defensive stats are an imperfect art, but when he was at third, McMahon did more than hold his own.

2021 NL 3B Gold Glove Finalists

Player Team Innings Assists Fld% Rdrs Rdrs/yr OAA
Player Team Innings Assists Fld% Rdrs Rdrs/yr OAA
Nolan Arenado STL 1312.0 287 0.974 6 5 10
Manny Machado SDP 1238.1 261 0.965 6 6 3
Ryan McMahon (3B) COL 848.2 171 0.979 12 17 10
Ryan McMahon (2B) COL 368.1 132 0.990 9 29 2
Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant

Just looking at McMahon’s stats at the hot corner, he topped the finalists in fielding percentage, Baseball Reference’s Defensive Runs Saved, and Statcast’s Outs Above Average. The first of those is obviously a rate stat, but the last two are counting stats, making his relative performance more impressive. Especially when you add in that he was just as impressive when playing second base. Again, defensive stats are far from perfect, and McMahon has a long way to go if he’s going to catch Nolan in defensive wow factor, but the stats show that this was a close race.

Of the 147 games that he played defensively, McMahon appeared in 113 at third base and 52 at second, for a rate of ~76% at third. Positional flexibility is something that is being more and more valued in today’s MLB, and it hasn’t precluded players from winning Gold Gloves in the past. The following players took home hardware while playing fewer than 80% of games at their eventual winning position. McMahon is listed on this table for reference only, as he did not win the award this year.

Gold Glovers with Positional Flexibility

Player Year Position Games at Position Total Games Percentage
Player Year Position Games at Position Total Games Percentage
Ryan McMahon 2021 3B 113 147 76.87%
Vic Power 1958 1B 91 143 63.64%
Ruben Amaro 1964 SS 79 124 63.71%
Joe Torre 1965 C 100 144 69.44%
Joe Pepitone 1966 1B 119 151 78.81%
Mickey Stanley 1969 OF 102 149 68.46%
Joe Rudi 1975 OF 44 123 35.77%
Baseball Reference

Please note - this chart only includes total games in which players appeared defensively, ie games played as a DH do not count towards that total. If they did, the chart would look slightly different, with some percentages potentially being lower. Also, if the chart included DH games, it would surely include Rafael Palmeiro’s 1999 1B Gold Glove. Perhaps one of the most egregious Gold Gloves in history, he appeared in just 28 games at 1B and 128 games at DH, yet still took home the hardware.

Regardless of where the awards ended up this year, some things have remained unchanged. Nolan Arenado was still decided to be the cream of the crop in the senior circuit at third. He took home his ninth consecutive award, moving one step closer to all time hot corner greats Mike Schmidt (10 Gold Gloves) and Brooks Robinson (16). But the Rockies still have as sure handed of a third baseman as you can find, and Ryan McMahon will continue to make Arenado’s pursuit of Schmidt and Robinson more difficult.

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2021 Gold Glove finalists and winners |

Along with Arenado, 17 other players took home Gold Gloves Sunday night, five of which were St. Louis Cardinals. Tyler O’Neill, Max Fried, and Arenado were all repeat winners from 2020 in the NL, while just Joey Gallo defended his in the AL. Multiple time winners Dallas Keuchel, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Chapman, and Brandon Crawford also won again in 2021 after at least a year removed.

2021-22 qualifying offer candidates and decisions |

Yesterday was also the deadline for MLB teams to extend qualifying offers to eligible players. The Rockies extended an offer (to no one’s surprise) to Trevor Story but did not extend one (to much surprise) to Jon Gray. Other notable players to not receive offers from their teams include Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Carlos Rodón (White Sox), and Alex Wood (Giants). If Story declines the offer as expected and signs with another team for at least $50 million, the Rockies will be awarded a compensation pick after the first round of the upcoming draft.

On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition

The AFL had a league-wide off day on Sunday. The Rockies representatives on the Salt River Rafters will return to play today, traveling on the road to visit the Suprise Saguaros.

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