Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the 2017 MLB Defensive Player of the Year on Friday during an awards presentation emanating from MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
The honors, which are separate from the Gold Glove Awards voted on by managers and coaches from around baseball, are based on a mathematical formula that includes defensive Wins Above Replacement, Defensive Runs Saved and Inside Edge metrics along with basic fielding percentage.
Buxton takes over the crown as the top overall defender from Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.
2017 Defensive Player of the Year Winners
Overall: Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)
Catcher: Martin Maldonado (Los Angeles Angels)
First Base: Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians)
Second Base: DJ LeMahieu (Colorado Rockies)
Third Base: Nolan Arenado (Rockies)
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons (Angels)
Left Field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City Royals)
Center Field: Byron Buxton (Twins)
Right Field: Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Pitcher: Tyler Chatwood (Rockies)
Defensive Team of the Year: Dodgers
Recap and Reaction
The Twins are being rewarded for giving Buxton time to develop. The prized prospect struggled to establish himself in the majors across his first two years. In 2017, Minnesota let him play through some slumps en route to 140 games, and he finally started to showcase his immense talent.
His fielding is just one example of that success. He posted a plus-seven DRS across the 2015 and 2016 seasons combined. That number jumped to 24 during this past year alone, which ranked third in MLB behind only Simmons and Betts, the last two winners of Defensive Player of the Year.
Buxton also led all players with a 27.8 percent conversion rate on defensive plays Inside Edge deemed to have between a 1 and 10 percent chance of being turned into an out.
Inside Edge provided further details about the 23-year-old rising star's fielding prowess:
MLB provided a look at some of his top defensive plays throughout 2017:
Meanwhile, Simmons gained more widespread attention this season due to his improvement at the plate. He posted a career-best .752 OPS with 19 stolen bases and 14 home runs to become a more reliable all-around contributor. But his work in the field has always been among the best in baseball.
The 28-year-old three-time Gold Glove Award winner owns a career plus-163 DRS figure and finished none of his six MLB seasons with a mark below plus-18. His plus-32 DRS during the 2017 campaign was one run better than Betts for the top spot among all fielders.
Angels first base coach Alfredo Griffin, who spent 18 years as a major league shortstop, provided high praise of Simmons' defensive ability back in July, per Mark Whicker of the Los Angeles Daily News.
"He's always moving over there, always talking, always doing something," he said. "You see him laughing with the baserunner at second base, but what he's doing is trying to keep him from getting our signs. And he doesn't get caught flat-footed. He thinks he can make every play, thinks he can throw behind the baserunners, but they all know him now. I really think if he just settled down, he could go through a whole season without making an error. He could do that."
Wilson Ball Gloves noted Simmons' consistent success capturing Defensive Player of the Year Awards:
Here's a look at more reaction to Friday's announcements:
Looking ahead, Aaron Hicks is a name to keep in mind for defensive awards in 2018. The New York Yankees center fielder wasn't a strong candidate this year since he only played 88 games, but he would have finished 17th on the DRS list at plus-12 if he had enough innings to qualify.
Better health combined with a more regular starting spot in center since Jacoby Ellsbury will likely be playing more designated hitter if he's not traded could give Hicks a chance to ascend toward the top of the advanced fielding metrics after sizable improvement in 2017.
All statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.