The San Francisco Giants have the best middle infield combination in all of baseball. It would be a shame for either of them to walk away without a gold glove.
The San Francisco Giants have been #blessed with a middle infield of Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford. There really isn’t a middle infield in baseball that have both played at high enough level to get gold glove nominations.
Crawford rightfully won it last season. Both were rightfully finalists for the award this year too. It’s also conceivable that one, or neither of them could walk away with a gold glove. We came to take a look at the cases for them. We’ll start with the incumbent at shortstop, Brandon Crawford. All stats are from fangraphs.com.
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Crawford won the Gold Glove in 2015 over the favorite, Andrelton Simmons. Crawford had a similar case as him. This time? His case is concrete as the favorite for it. His competition for the award is Addison Russell, and Freddy Galvis. Crawford leads the NL in UZR at 21.3. He also is tied with Addison Russell in first for defensive runs saved, and defensive WAR. Freddie Galvis has a higher fielding percentage, which is his only category lead over either of Crawford and Russell.
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For Panik, it’s actually even more clear. Panik is tied for the highest fielding percentage of 2B in the NL. He also has the highest UZR of those who were nominated, and the same for Defensive Runs Saved. Both Jean Segura and D.J. LaMahieu, his competition, are in the negatives. It’s not even close that Panik should walk away with it. The same goes for Crawford. But is it possible that one or both could walk away from it?
The BBWAA is known for odd votes, especially when it comes to Gold Gloves. Too many simply look at errors and nothing else when casting their votes. A perfect case as to why errors are a dumb stat is last nights weird play in the first inning. Take a look at the video and then attribute the error to who you think should get an error.
Sadly, the person in this play who received the error was Jason Kipnis. Kipnis received an error on his throw, the only error on the play, yet he was the only one who made the correct decision. However, that error gets thrown into his stat sheet.
Too many of these things happen each night. Balls that were nearly impossible to field get deemed as errors simply because the fielder touches it. Official scorers are the ones in control of that, and frankly, they get it wrong too many times. So is it reliable to use errors simply as the stat that makes one a good or bad fielder? Not really.
In that case you have to look at the defensive metrics available to you. Defensive Runs Saved and UZR are the two most concrete stats to look at as far as defensive metrics go. The Giants lead a lot of these categories, especially Crawford and Panik. Together, they’re UZR is 28.7. The Phillies have the next highest combo at 28.6. Incredibly close, but still, the Giants lead.
The best defensive middle infield in baseball could conceivably walk away without a gold glove. It would be something quite disappointing, for both Giants fans, and for Crawford and Panik. The dynamic defensive duo have hooked up for plenty of double plays together. Hopefully they will walk away with a double play on the Gold Glove.