The 2021 Gold Glove finalists were revealed on Thursday, and not surprisingly, the SF Giants had a pair of players make the list. Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski were announced as NL Gold Glove finalists at shortstop and right field, respectively.
SF Giants: Brandon Crawford, Mike Yastrzemski are Gold Glove finalists
Crawford being recognized as one of the best defensive shortstops in the league is not a surprising development. The longtime Giants shortstop made highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis. That said, it is not common for a player to show the defensive excellence at a premium position that Crawford did in his age-34 season.
Awards season will be an exciting time for Crawford. Earlier this week, it was announced that he was a finalist for the Silver Slugger award at shortstop as well. Plus, he should receive serious consideration for the NL MVP award once the ballots are released after the conclusion of the World Series.
The 34-year-old shortstop is no stranger to being recognized for his defensive excellence. After all, he won three consecutive Gold Glove awards beginning in 2015. The 2021 season was one of the very best he has had with the glove.
According to Baseball Savant, Crawford was worth 15 Outs Above Average (OAA), which easily surpassed his previous career-high of ten. Similarly, Fangraphs indicated that he was worth six Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Both of these numbers suggest that he was an elite defensive shortstop.
As much as we rely on defensive metrics to form judgments about a player's performance, I don't know if the numbers can accurately capture just how special he was at shortstop. The Giants were one of the best defensive teams in baseball and Crawford's performance played a huge role in that.
On the other hand, Mike Yastrzemski being recognized as one of the best defensive right fielders in the NL was a nice surprise. Playing right field at Oracle Park is no easy task given how much territory there is to cover but he has adapted well.
The 31-year-old outfielder recorded six OAA and five DRS in right field in 2021. Similar to Crawford, these numbers suggest that Yastrzemski was an elite defensive right fielder. He will face some tough competition as Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adam Duvall of the Atlanta Braves were announced as the other two finalists.
The Giants set a franchise record with 107 wins last season and that was a product of a lot of factors including strong defensive play. Crawford and Yastrzemski led the way on defense and being recognized as finalists at their respective positions is nice in and of itself.