Final Predictions for MLB's 2013 Gold Glove Award Winners

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

Final Predictions for MLB's 2013 Gold Glove Award Winners

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    While the biggest of baseball's awards won't be handed out until after the World Series has come to an end, the results in the 2013 Gold Glove Award voting will be announced on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, according to Rawlings, the company that sponsors the oversized hardware.

    For the first time ever, the sabermetric community will have an official say in who wins, as the SABR Defensive Index will account for roughly 25 percent of the vote, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times' John Grochowski back in August.

    The Baltimore Orioles lead all teams with six finalists, while the Los Angeles Dodgers, with five finalists, lead the National League. The Tampa Bay Rays' entire infield is in the running, while the Boston Red Sox, Oakland A's, Pittsburgh Pirates and Orioles have two-thirds of their starting outfield up for an award.

    How's the voting going to play out? Will advanced metrics play a larger role than expected?

    Let's take a look.

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

AL Catcher

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.CERACS Pct.
    Joe Mauer (MIN).9964.06.425
    Salvador Perez (KC).9933.37.352
    Matt Wieters (BAL).9974.32.353

    Predicted Winner: Perez

    Salvador Perez has quickly established himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the American League. His performance behind the dish had as much to do with the Kansas City Royals hanging around in the playoff race until late September as anything.

    Joe Mauer might have the superior numbers to both Perez and Wieters, but he caught only 660 innings this season, while both of his competitors exceeded 1,100 behind the plate.

    While Wieters may still be a bit better than Perez with the glove, Kansas City's 23-year-old All-Star is the superior game-caller.

NL Catcher

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.CERACS Pct.
    A.J. Ellis (LAD).9973.06.444
    Russell Martin (PIT).9983.16.404
    Yadier Molina (STL).9963.17.435

    Predicted Winner: Molina

    While Yadier Molina is a stud at the plate, it's the 31-year-old's defense that makes him the best catcher in baseball on a yearly basis.

    The competition this year in the National League is as stiff as it's ever been, and the three finalists are separated by hundredths of percentage points in more than one category.

    Yet Molina remains the premier signal-caller in the game, with an ability to frame pitches that no other backstop possesses. With the numbers as close as they are, the fact that Molina has taken home the hardware five consecutive times will work in his favor—and he'll make it six straight Gold Glove Awards in 2013.

AL First Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Chris Davis (BAL).996minus-1.4minus-7
    Eric Hosmer (KC).9942.23
    James Loney (TB).9957.24

    Predicted Winner: Loney

    It's a relatively weak field in the American League with the glaring omission of Boston's Mike Napoli, who not only led the American League with 10 defensive runs saved but led all qualified MLB first basemen with a 13.2 UZR/150.

    Chris Davis doesn't belong, as advanced metrics show him to be a below-average fielder. Eric Hosmer, a future Gold Glove Award winner, didn't have a Gold Glove-worthy campaign for the Royals.

    That leaves James Loney, a solid defender, as the default winner. I don't expect this to be a close race either, with the 29-year-old beating his competition by a relatively large margin.

NL First Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Paul Goldschmidt (ARI).9974.413
    Adrian Gonzalez (LAD).9926.511
    Anthony Rizzo (CHC).9979.216

    Predicted Winner: Gonzalez

    Make no mistake about it: Anthony Rizzo deserves to win the Gold Glove Award as the National League's best defensive first baseman.

    But he won't win it. Adrian Gonzalez will.

    Gonzalez not only has the star power, name recognition and reputation as a quality defensive player, but he's a past winner of the award, having taken home a pair of Gold Gloves with the San Diego Padres (2008 and 2009) and one with Boston (2011).

    It's not that Gonzalez isn't deserving, it's that both Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt are better than he is with a glove on their hand. 

AL Second Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Robinson Cano (NYY).9911.36
    Dustin Pedroia (BOS).99311.715
    Ben Zobrist (TB).99314.77

    Predicted Winner: Pedroia

    Perhaps the smartest infielder in the game today, Dustin Pedroia seems to always in the right place at the right time when a ball is hit anywhere near second base.

    A two-time Gold Glove Award winner (2008 and 2011), Pedroia led the position with 15 defensive runs saved while posting the third-highest UZR/150 among second basemen, trailing only Ben Zobrist in the American League.

    In a battle between Boston, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees for American League supremacy (sound familiar?), Pedroia wins what is essentially a popularity contest between him and Ben Zobrist, with Robinson Cano having nowhere near as impressive a season as his counterparts with the glove.

    Pedroia wins that contest easily, with Zobrist losing points for not spending the entire season at one position—the only time that his versatility is viewed in a negative light.

NL Second Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Darwin Barney (CHC).99315.511
    Mark Ellis (LAD).9897.812
    Brandon Phillips (CIN).9878.51

    Predicted Winner: Barney

    While he didn't have a record-setting errorless streak as he did in 2012, Darwin Barney remains the premier defensive second baseman in baseball and will take home his second consecutive Gold Glove Award.

    The 27-year-old has unreal range in the middle of the field, and it shows in his numbers, including a position-best 15.5 UZR/150 and 11 defensive runs saved, making him one of three second basemen in all of baseball to crack double digits in both advanced metrics this season.

    Brandon Phillips will make it a close race, as his reputation for delivering highlight-reel plays precedes him, but Mark Ellis, with a slightly higher fielding percentage and significant advantage over Phillips in DRS, will finish a distant third in the race.

AL Third Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Adrian Beltre (TEX).959minus-1.4minus-5
    Evan Longoria (TB).97216.212
    Manny Machado (BAL).97331.835

    Predicted Winner: Machado

    Manny Machado had a record-setting season at the hot corner for Baltimore, breaking a pair of records set back in 2004: Adrian Beltre's 26.8 UZR/150 with the Dodgers and Scott Rolen's 30 DRS for the Cardinals.

    Only 21 years old and two years into playing the position—he came up through the Orioles farm system as a shortstop—what Machado has been able to do with the glove is nothing short of remarkable, and any discussion about the best defender at the hot corner in either league starts with him.

    As tends to be the case in award voting, Evan Longoria is once again overshadowed by a more popular candidate, while Beltre is included on reputation alone, as he had a terrible season with the glove by any standards, much less the ones that the four-time Gold Glove recipient has set for himself over a 16-year career. 

NL: Third Base

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Nolan Arenado (COL).98322.530
    Juan Uribe (LAD).97335.315
    David Wright (NYM).9734.95

    Predicted Winner: Wright

    A superstar in the biggest market in the game, David Wright will cruise to the third Gold Glove Award of his career, facing little opposition from a hotshot rookie in Nolan Arenado and a career utility player that happened to have a terrific season at the hot corner in Juan Uribe.

    It's not that Wright isn't deserving, as he's solid with the glove. But in 2013, both Arenado and Uribe were significantly better, with the pair holding substantial leads over Wright in advanced defensive metrics.

    But Wright is a past winner, a perennial All-Star and someone who brings big-name appeal with him, something that neither of his competitors can boast. That will be enough to put him over the top with the voters.

AL Shortstop

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Alcides Escobar (KC).97912.14
    Yunel Escobar (TB).98912.24
    J.J Hardy (BAL).9816.18

    Predicted Winner: Hardy

    Both Alcides and Yunel Escobar had excellent years defensively, sitting as the only two American League shortstops to crack double digits in UZR/150. But neither one brings a reputation as a premier defender into the competition with him, while J.J. Hardy does.

    Were the vote based solely on how a player performed in the field in 2013, Alcides Escobar would be the likely winner. But reputation plays a part, and Hardy, last year's winner, will take home his second consecutive Gold Glove Award due to the familiarity with voters that his competitors don't have.

NL Shortstop

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Ian Desmond (WAS).9714.4minus-3
    Andrelton Simmons (ATL).98123.941
    Troy Tulowitzki (COL).9867.66

    Predicted Winner: Simmons

    Get used to seeing Andrelton Simmons hoisting Gold Glove Awards, for the 24-year-old shortstop is already the best defensive shortstop in baseball and his career is just getting started. His 41 defensive runs saved shattered the previous shortstop record of 34, set by Houston's Adam Everett back in 2004, and his 23.9 UZR/150 isn't far off from Everett's 25.7 mark that season either.

    It's not an overstatement to say that without Simmons' defense at shortstop, the Atlanta Braves probably don't win the NL East. His glove is that important to his team's success, and his ability to get to balls that other shortstops cannot makes this no competition at all. 

AL Left Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Yoenis Cespedes (OAK).98013.64
    Andy Dirks (DET).99113.16
    Alex Gordon (KC).9977.316

    Predicted Winner: Gordon

    Winner of back-to-back Gold Glove Awards, Alex Gordon played 500 more innings in left field than either Yoenis Cespedes or Andy Dirks this season, giving him a significant advantage that his competition simply cannot overcome.

    It doesn't hurt that Gordon is a fantastic fielder either and has one of the premier outfield throwing arms in the game, finishing the season tied with Arizona's Gerardo Parra for the outfield lead in assists with 17, regardless of position.

    Gordon makes it three Gold Gloves in a row with little trouble.

NL Left Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Carlos Gonzalez (COL).9849.510
    Starling Marte (PIT).96820.120
    Eric Young Jr. (NYM).9896.22

    Predicted Winner: Marte

    With all due respect to Eric Young Jr., he's out of his league in this competition.

    It comes down to the star power and throwing arm of Carlos Gonzalez, who was tied for the National League lead in outfield assists from left field at 11 with Bryce Harper, against the superior range of Starling Marte.

    But CarGo barely played down the stretch, with Marte logging nearly 200 more innings in the field than his counterpart with the Colorado Rockies. The youngster's significant edge in advanced metrics will be a bit more than Gonzalez can handle, and he'll win the first Gold Glove Award of his career in a close race.

AL Center Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Lorenzo Cain (KC).99623.917
    Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS).99212.913
    Adam Jones (BAL).995minus-7.9minus-2

    Predicted Winner: Ellsbury

    Lorenzo Cain is the best defensive center fielder in the American League, but he's got no chance of beating out Jacoby Ellsbury for the Gold Glove Award this season.

    Ellsbury has a more than 350-inning lead at the position over Cain, who missed time with injury and shifted to right field when Jarrod Dyson played alongside him. Ellsbury has the reputation as a plus defender, having won the award back in 2011, and he'll cruise to a relatively easy victory in this race.

    Adam Jones doesn't belong here despite a high fielding percentage, as there are a handful of center fielders (Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson and Mike Trout, to name a few) who were more deserving of a nomination this year.

NL Center Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Carlos Gomez (MIL).98827.238
    Andrew McCutchen (PIT).9828.47
    Denard Span (WAS)1.0009.93

    Predicted Winner: Gomez

    Center field in the National League might be the most difficult position in baseball to anoint a clear-cut "best defender" label to, with multiple players, either in the prime of their careers or just starting out, all having a legitimate claim to the title.

    But there isn't another center fielder in baseball who fields balls hit over his head as well as Carlos Gomez, with all the evidence we need provided in the video above. Already with a reputation as an above-average defender, his advanced metrics blow his competition out of the water.

    While it wouldn't be a shock to see Andrew McCutchen win the award for a second consecutive year, Gomez is the most deserving candidate. The voters will get this one right, bestowing Gomez with the first Gold Glove Award of his career.

AL Right Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Nick Markakis (BAL)1.000minus-5.8minus-7
    Josh Reddick (OAK).98122.313
    Shane Victorino (BOS).98935.324

    Predicted Winner: Victorino

    I trashed Boston's decision to sign Shane Victorino this past offseason, but the Flyin' Hawaiian has made me eat those words, both at the plate and in the field.

    He set a new right field record with a 35.3 UZR/150, besting former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon's 27.4 mark in 2005. And he trails only Gerardo Parra in DRS, posting an American League-best 24. He also landed in a four-way tie for the AL lead in right field assists with nine.

    Victorino's athleticism and fearlessness in right field has helped Boston leave the disaster of 2012 in the rear-view mirror—and that will go a long way with voters, landing the veteran the first American League Gold Glove Award of his career and his fourth overall.

NL Right Field

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.UZR/150DRS
    Jay Bruce (CIN).99110.118
    Jason Heyward (ATL)1.00021.015
    Gerardo Parra (ARI).98935.324

    Predicted Winner: Parra

    One of the worst-kept secrets in baseball over the past few years has been just how awesome Gerardo Parra is with the glove.

    Finally given a chance to play on a daily basis this season, Parra has shown just how good he is, leading all major league right fielders with 15 assists and 36 defensive runs saved while leading the National League in UZR/150, breaking Jayson Heyward's mark of 23.3 set last season.

AL Pitcher

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.DRS
    Mark Buehrle (TOR).9594
    R.A. Dickey (TOR).9627
    Doug Fister (DET)1.0001

    Predicted Winner: Fister

    R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are both past winners who have gaudier numbers when it comes to defensive runs saved, and the argument could be made that the Toronto Blue Jays' season would have been more disappointing than it was without the pair's smooth glovework on the mound.

    But the teammates will split votes, as teammates often do in award races, leaving the door wide open for Doug Fister to win the first Gold Glove Award of his career. Fister flashed surprising athleticism on the mound for the Tigers this year, making plays on balls that other pitchers wouldn't have even tried to pull off.

NL Pitcher

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    Player (Team)Fielding Pct.DRS
    Patrick Corbin (ARI).9628
    Zack Greinke (LAD)1.0007
    Adam Wainwright (STL)1.0004

    Predicted Winner: Wainwright

    Patrick Corbin deserves the award, but Adam Wainwright will win it.

    A past winner (2009), Wainwright didn't commit an error this season and he turned a major-league best six double plays from the mound. Thankfully for Wainwright, postseason play doesn't play a factor in the voting (at least it's not supposed to), meaning that the misplayed pop-up that fell between him and Yadier Molina in Game 1 of the World Series shouldn't come into play.