SF Giants rookie catcher Patrick Bailey quickly established himself as one of the better defensive catchers in baseball this past season. His hard work did not go unnoticed as he is one of the finalists for the NL Gold Glove award at catcher.
SF Giants rookie catcher is a finalist for the Gold Glove award
Bailey is competing against Gabriel Moreno of the Arizona Diamondbacks and J.T. Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies. The voting has already taken place, so the list of finalists is just a formality at this point. There is no additional voting that takes place among the finalists.
Realmuto is the reigning NL Gold Glove award winner at catcher and that is an achievement that is hard to overcome. If the performances are close, then voters will typically favor the player who has one it most recently.
Interestingly, Bailey and Moreno are both rookies. Usually, it takes a year or two for rookies to get recognized, but that is not the case as the voting process has improved in recent years. It is also interesting how important an excellent defensive catcher is to a team's success as both Moreno and Realmuto's teams are facing off in the NLCS.
While the voting process is not perfect, it is more objective than it has been in the past. About 25 percent of the award is based on the SABR Defensive Index. This is good news for Bailey who led all catchers with +10.1 SDI as of August 13, 2023. The numbers have not been updated since then but they should be published before the winners are revealed.
The 24-year-old catcher led all qualified catchers in a number of defensive metrics, including Catcher Defensive Added (+22.6 CDA), Fielding Run Value (+18), Catcher Framing Runs (+16), strike rate (52.9 percent), and had one of the quickest pop times. Baseball Savant and Baseball Prospectus both loved his work behind the plate.
I do not want to bore you with explaining what each of these metrics mean but they all seem to point to Bailey being one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. The objective numbers paint one side of the story, but Bailey passed the eye test as well and his defense made the Giants better while influencing the outcome of games.
The numbers should be in his favor, but will the coaches and managers agree? That remains to be seen, but it would be disappointing if he was overlooked for the award when everything seems to be pointing in his favor. The results will be released on November 5.