The 2015 Gold Glove finalists are set to be announced later this month and Brandon Crawford will almost certainly be among them. “B-Craw” has been widely recognized as one of the league’s premiere defensive shortstops over the past few years, but has been overshadowed by Braves’ stud shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who has won the NL Gold Glove at shortstop each of the past two seasons.
Crawford had a stellar 2015 campaign, however, and this could be the year he finally brings home the hardware.
Looking at traditional fielding stats, Crawford had his best season yet, sporting career highs in double plays (89), put outs (191), and fielding percentage (.979) while committing only 13 errors, down from 21 last season.
Plus, he did a whole lot of this:
The bad news is that Simmons’ numbers are even more impressive, boasting an astonishing 126 double plays and 235 put outs while committing only 8 errors.
Advanced fielding metrics, in contrast, are more favorable to Crawford, placing him second among all shortstops in Defensive WAR with a 2.9 dWAR just behind Simmons’ 3.5 dWAR. The SABR Defensive Index—brought to you by the same folks who coined the term “sabermetrics”—ranked Crawford as the top defensive player in the NL through September 13th with a score of 16.8. This metric, termed SDI, is calculated using batted ball location stats including Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating, and Runs Efficiently Defended along with play-by-play accounts.
Even if linear regression models aren’t your thing, there is one essential reason you should care about Crawford’s SABR ranking: As of 2013, the SABR Defensive Index accounts for approximately 25 percent of the Gold Glove selection process. While SABR’s final full season results have yet to be released, Crawford enjoys a comfortable lead over the next two NL shortstops, Adeiny Hechavarria (11.6 SDI) and Simmons (10.1 SDI), and it’s safe to assume he’ll remain at the top of the final index, which will go a long way in increasing his Gold Glove odds.
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Manager and coach voting determine the other 75% of the selection process, and there are reasons to be optimistic about Crawford’s Gold Glove chances with coaching staffs around the league well aware of the 2015 All Star’s stellar glove. In addition to padding his defensive highlight real in the 2015 season, Crawford showcased an offensive power surge and was voted to his first All-Star Game. Although things like offensive production and all-star appearances are not supposed to be considered in Gold Glove selections, they go a long way in influencing voting. Just look at a year-by-year list of Gold Glove recipients and you’ll find a disproportionate number of big name players who were selected over more deserving non-all star candidates. (Jimmy Rollins’ 2012 Gold Glove selection comes to mind). This is not to say that Crawford isn’t deserving based on defensive considerations alone, but his increased profile around the league is certainly going to help.
Sep 19, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) dives to control the ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants haven’t had a Gold Glove award winner since Omar Vizquel in 2006, and it’s about time a player on the most dominant team of the 2010’s is recognized for his defensive prowess. Here’s to Crawford ending the Giants’ Gold Glove dry spell and reaffirming his status as perhaps the best all-around shortstop in the game.