The Gold Glove finalists were published on Wednesday and one SF Giants rookie made the cut. However, second baseman Thairo Estrada was noticeably absent from the listing despite having a strong year defensively.
Was SF Giants infielder Thairo Estrada Gold Glove snub?
Nico Hoener (Chicago Cubs), Ha-Seong Kim (San Diego Padres), and Bryson Stott (Philadelphia Phillies) were the three NL finalists at second base. The voting has already been done, so the fact that they are finalists is a bit of a misleading term. There is no additional round of voting that focuses only on the finalists.
Usually, when you talk about a snub, it is easy to identify who was snubbed. However, the hard part is picking who someone like Estrada should replace. Giants fans have seen Kim over the past several seasons and know that he is about as good as it gets defensively whether it is at second base or shortstop.
Hoener and Stott are on the younger side, but both have evidently made enough of an impression. On the other hand, Estrada made some nice improvements with the glove and it is a shame that he is not being recognized.
Interestingly, the 27-year-old shortstop posted a +4.8 on SABR's Defensive Index as of August 13, which accounts for 25 percent of the Gold Glove voting. Both Stott (+5.7) and Kim (+8.3) ranked higher than Estrada, but Hoener was absent from the list. The remaining 75 percent of the vote is determined by managers and coaches, which likely means that Hoener received more support through that channel.
Fielding metrics can be funky as well. For example, Estrada was worth +1 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) but was worth +19 Outs Above Average (OAA) at second base. One stat suggests that he was hovering around league average, whereas the other indicates that he is one of the very best.
Estrada's +19 OAA was second in baseball behind only Dansby Swanson of the Cubs, who was listed as an NL finalist at shortstop. Plus, he was worth +14 Fielding Runs Value according to Baseball Prospectus, which ranked as the fifth-best mark in baseball. Those in front of him, including Swanson and Patrick Bailey, are regarded as some of the best defensive players at their respective positions.
The voting still has its flaws and it arguably still relies on the eye test too much, but it has improved in recent years. Speaking of improvement, Estrada went from 0 OAA in 2022 to +19 in 2023. That is a pretty huge jump.
The numbers do support Estrada's case of being snubbed. Regardless of what the voters say, the five-year veteran was easily the best position player on the Giants and found ways to contribute on all sides of the ball. He may not take home a Gold Glove award in 2023, but he definitely played at that level.