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RyMac’s surprising Gold Glove nomination could be just what he needs

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, October 21, 2022

It was more than a little surprising to see two Rockies make the cut when Major League Baseball announced three Gold Glove finalists for each position in the NL and AL on Thursday.

Brendan Rodgers was no surprise for his work at second base, despite converting from shortstop over the past few years. As Purple Row’s Skyler Timmins wrote about in August, Rodgers has a legit case to win the award, which would end the Rockies one-year skid of not having a Gold Glove winner.

Rodgers finished 2022 with 22 defensive runs saved and 15 total run zone — well above fellow finalists Jake Cronenworth and Tommy Edman, who actually played more games at shortstop than second base in 2022. He also had the most innings played, assists, double plays, and putouts.

NL 2nd Base Gold Glove Finalists

Name Inns. Played Errors Fielding % Putouts Assists DPs D. Runs Saved Total Zone Runs Outs Above Ave. Def WAR
Name Inns. Played Errors Fielding % Putouts Assists DPs D. Runs Saved Total Zone Runs Outs Above Ave. Def WAR
Jake Cronenworth 1239 2/3 4 .992 205 308 77 2 -2 4 0.3
Tommy Edman* 614 2/3 3 .991 124 210 51 12 5 10 2.8
Brendan Rodgers 1168 1/3 10 .984 218 411 99 22 15 3 3
Edman played 622 innings at shortstop
Defensive Runs Saved from FanGraphs, Total Zone Runs from Baseball Reference, OAA from Baseball Sevant

The head-scratching announcement came in the form of Ryan McMahon being named as a finalist for third base. McMahon struggled at third base this season, making 17 errors, which ties for the fourth-most in MLB and is the most for third basemen. McMahon and the Rockies took a giant step back when it came to fielding in 2022. The Rockies 99 errors were the fifth-worst in MLB and the .983 fielding percentage tied for fourth-worst with the Giants.

With the departure of Nolan Arenado, the Rockies were extremely fortunate to have McMahon step in at third in 2021. He tied Arenado with 10 outs above average and had 12 defensive runs saved in his first year as the Rockies everyday third baseman — a number that doubled Arenado’s. McMahon proved his athleticism and skill at the hot corner, earning his first Gold Glove finalist nomination. While his talent obviously remains, and on any given day McMahon can flash eye-popping feats of grandeur, he just struggled with more mistakes this season. It’s also worth remembering that one of those errors was more of a glove malfunction than McMahon’s fault.

When it comes to Gold Glove awards, however, McMahon proved he has enough fielding prowess to catapult him above the mistakes and into award contention. He even beat out Manny Machado, who’s been making some pretty outstanding plays in the NLDS and NLCS and didn’t crack the top three. McMahon still turned in a 10 at outs above average, but it’s far below Arenado’s 18. Pittsburgh Ke’Bryan Hayes had 15 OAA, but also a sky-high 24 defensive runs saved, well more than Arenado (14) and McMahon (7).

NL 3rd Base Gold Glove Finalists

Name Inns. Played Errors Fielding % Putouts Assists DPs D. Runs Saved Total Zone Runs Outs Above Ave. Def WAR
Name Inns. Played Errors Fielding % Putouts Assists DPs D. Runs Saved Total Zone Runs Outs Above Ave. Def WAR
Nolan Arenado 1118 2/3 12 .968 84 283 38 14 15 18 2.3
Ke'Bryan Hayes 1102 2/3 12 .972 109 307 31 24 11 15 3
Ryan McMahon 1176 1/3 17 .953 88 257 27 7 3 10 1.4
Defensive Runs Saved from FanGraphs, Total Zone Runs from Baseball Reference, OAA from Baseball Sevant

Arenado and Hayes also have way more putouts, assists, and double plays than McMahon, despite the fact that the Rockies third baseman played many more innings. Of course, a lot of fielding — where the ball is hit, if your teammates can turn the double play, how fast the runner is, and more — are completely out of a defensive player’s control.

While Hayes has demonstrated a clear case to dethrone Arenado, who could find himself tied with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt at 10 Gold Gloves if he wins this year, it’s clear that McMahon shouldn't win this year. He made a much better case for the trophy in 2021, but Arenado won his ninth-straight instead.

In terms of what happened with McMahon in 2022, a case could be made that he got off to a rough start and got the defensive yips. After committing five errors in 113 games at third base in 2021, McMahon committed eight errors in the first 39 games this season — all eight of them came during a 25-game stretch since he went the first 14 games without an error.

The errors that opened the floodgates came on April 25 against the Phillies when he committed two. He then had two more errors over the next three games and five more in May. Through 61 games, he had 11 errors. Baseball superstition would suggest that the ball finds players who make errors. Whether this is statistically true or just feels true, mistakes can have a way of leading to more mistakes. Once an error is in the scorebook, it can linger in a player’s head and make them overthink their positioning and other fundamental moves that would normally be second nature. Perhaps a more generous and hopeful way to look at McMahon’s 2022 fielding gaffs is through this lens.

McMahon finished the season strong, making only one error in July and two in both August and September. He got better. But by then, he’d already dug a hole too big to climb out of.

What McMahon needs are a confidence boost and a clean slate. Entering 2022, fresh off a 6-year, $70 million deal, it’s quite possible that McMahon tried to do too much. Trying to emerge as a team leader in the shadow of Arenado, there was a lot of pressure on McMahon to perform. Instead, he regressed at the plate and on the field. Being named as a Gold Glove finalist for the second-straight year could be the mental booster he needs to remind him of his potential to be an award-winning third baseman who can be a leader, in personality and statistics, for the Rockies.

Changing up some of the coaching staff, like the Rockies have done with infield coach Stu Cole and hitting coach Dave Magadan, could also give new coaches a chance to work with McMahon and help him be the player Rockies fans believe and need him to be.

The Gold Glove winners will be announced on Nov. 1, just before Game 4 of the World Series.

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The Cubs are lowering season ticket prices for 2023 by an average of 5 percent | Bleed Cubbie Blue

After a losing season and understanding the impact of a tighter economy and more choices for entertainment, the Chicago Cubs decided to lower prices for season ticket holders next season. The Cubs finished ninth in total attendance last year at 2,616,780, just ahead of the Rockies at 2,597,428. It’s a very interesting idea. It makes one wonder if it will catch on with other teams.

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Arizona Fall League

Salt River Rafters 10, Mesa Solar Sox 6

Trailing 6-2 heading into the sixth inning, the Rafters pieced together a seven-run rally and seal a victory on Thursday. Rockies first base prospect Grant Lavigne, whose 1.087 OPS is ninth best in the AFL and .389 batting average is sixth best, was in the middle of the rally by hitting an RBI double that put Salt River ahead 7-6 and then he also scored to make it 8-6. In the fifth inning, Lavigne also walked and scored a run in the fifth. Warming Bernabel was the only other Rockies prospect to play in the game and he went 0-for-4 with one strikeout, leaving four runners on base.

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