SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt once again fell short of a Gold Glove award. Will he ever bring it home?
Major League Baseball chose to announce this year’s Gold Glove Award winners on election night for some reason. Buried in a much more important news cycle, SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt once again fell short of winning the award. Anthony Rizzo won his fourth Gold Glove instead.
While Rizzo is considered a good defensive first baseman, Belt has been an elite defensive first baseman for his entire 10-year MLB career. However, a combination of injuries and a lack of name recognition have hampered his chances. Still, the fact is Belt has long deserved to be recognized as the best defensive first baseman in baseball.
Baseball Savant has data on an outs above average statistic for infielders over the past four seasons. Over that time, Belt has consistently ranked as one of the best defenders at his position. In 2017, Belt led the league at the position with 9 out above average while only playing 104 games due to injury. This year, Belt was tied for the National League lead with St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Frustratingly, Rizzo recorded -1 outs above average in 2020 and ranked below over 15 other first baseman. Granted, Rizzo ranked as the best defensive first baseman in the league, according to FanGraphs (Belt ranked 5th in the NL).
Defensive metrics that properly calculate players’ contributions remain one of the most perplexing problems facing baseball evaluators. But Belt has consistently ranked highly by more complex statistical metrics, traditional defensive statistics, and according to scouts. Yet, a decade into his career, he’s yet to win even one Gold Glove.
SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has gone up against some great defensive first baseman for recognition throughout his career. Frustratingly, a player’s offensive production often acts as a tiebreaker in these type of awards. Without the offensive production of players like Goldschmidt and Rizzo, he’s continued to fall short. Hopefully, Belt will soon break through and be able to add the award to his trophy case.