NL SS Gold Glove Disconnect Suggests Peralta Slighted

As many readers know, defensive metrics were added to the Gold Glove Award process in 2013. For each Gold Glove, given by position by league, the SABR Defensive Index, or SDI, is assessed a weighting of 25 percent against the 75 percent from traditional manager and coach voting.

Several weeks ago, those who placed among top three overall by position by league were identified as Gold Glove Award “finalists,” an apparent move to generate additional buzz prior to the final results being divulged. Despite the implication, there was no second round of voting.

St. Louis Cardinals Gold Glove Award “finalists” in 2014 were pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina. Molina won, taking home his seventh consecutive award.

This year, SABR announced the individual SDI scores the day after the Gold Glove Award winners were announced. The comparative results are most interesting.

It is clear that the numbers favor Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta much more so than did the voters. In the SDI, Peralta ranked third among National League shortstops at 10.3, but he did not finish among the top three in the overall tally.

Andrelton Simmons was the NL shortstop winner, though the Atlanta Brave had the second-highest SDI, behind another “finalist,” Zack Cozart of the Reds.

In a huge disconnect between the voting and SDI, consider the case of the third “finalist” at the position, Adeiny Hechavarria. Known to make spectacular plays at times, the Marlins shortstop obviously scored well on the voters’ “eye test,” yet was terrible defensively overall according to the SDI. In fact, at -5.7, Hechavarria was only one of three NL shortstops to log a negative score. Among the 15 ranked in SDI, Miami’s shortstop was 14th.

Position/SDI rank

NL shortstop Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Zack Cozart CIN 14.1 finalist
2 Andrelton Simmons ATL 13.1 GG winner
3 Jhonny Peralta STL 10.3
14 Adeiny Hechavarria MIA -5.7 finalist

If the metrics can be trusted at all, it sure seems like Peralta was slighted and Hechavarria was overvalued by the Gold Glove Award voters.

How did other Cardinals fare?

Looking at Cardinals players in the broader context offers a few surprises. On the positive side, Kolten Wong had the fourth-best SDI among NL second basemen. On the other hand, his predecessor Matt Carpenter was a distant 11th among Senior Circuit third sackers with a -2.1 SDI.

Cardinals with positive SDIs: Molina, Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Matt Adams, Wong, Peralta and Jon Jay.

Cardinals with negative SDIs: Shelby Miller, Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig (since traded).

Here are the other top NL SDIs by position with all qualifying Cardinals included. The full listings, including the American League, can be viewed on the SABR website. While you are there, please consider joining.

Position/SDI rank

NL pitchers Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Henderson Alvarez MIA 4.9
2 Johnny Cueto CIN 3.9
3 Zack Greinke LAD 3.5 GG winner
4 Clayton Kershaw LAD 3.4 finalist
5 Adam Wainwright STL 3.0 finalist
9 Lance Lynn STL 2.1
43 Shelby Miller STL -0.9
NL catchers Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Yadier Molina STL 8.9 GG winner
2 Russell Martin PIT 8.7 finalist
3 Rene Rivera SD 6.0
4 Jonathan Lucroy MIL 5.2 finalist
NL first base Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Adrian Gonzalez LAD 7.2 GG winner
2 Justin Morneau COL 5.8 finalist
3 Anthony Rizzo CHC 5.6
6 Matt Adams STL 1.3
8 Adam LaRoche WSN -0.5 finalist
NL second base Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Chase Utley PHI 9.0 finalist
2 DJ LeMahieu COL 8.6 GG winner
3 Brandon Phillips CIN 2.7 finalist
4 Kolten Wong STL 1.1
NL third base Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Juan Uribe LAD 12.9 finalist
2 Nolan Arenado COL 10.7 GG winner
3 Josh Harrison PIT 6.5
7 Pablo Sandoval SFG 3.9 finalist
11 Matt Carpenter STL -2.1
NL left field Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Christian Yelich MIA 8.9 GG winner
2 Khris Davis MIL 5.0
3 Justin Upton ATL 2.5 finalist
4 Starling Marte PIT 2.2 finalist
6 Matt Holliday STL -1.0
NL centerfield Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Juan Lagares NYM 16.4 GG winner
2 Billy Hamilton CIN 13.7 finalist
3 Ender Inciarte ARI 8.7
4 Jon Jay STL 2.8
6 Denard Span WSN 1.5 finalist
NL right field Player Team SDI Recognition
1 Jason Heyward ATL 26.5 GG winner
2 Giancarlo Stanton MIA 8.1 finalist
3 Marlon Byrd PHI 4.4
4 Gerardo Parra ARI 0.1 finalist
6 Allen Craig STL -0.7

Miscellaneous notes

Overall, five of the nine NL Gold Glove winners were also the SDI leaders. Three award winners were second in SDI and one was third.

It is interesting that at catcher, “finalist” Jonathan Lucroy of Milwaukee was fourth in SDI, behind Molina, Russell Martin as well as San Diego’s Rene Rivera.

Other than Hechavarria, only one NL Gold Glove “finalist” had a negative SDI, first baseman Adam LaRoche. The Washington National was eighth at his position in SDI. Other NL “finalists” ranked fairly low in SDI include Pablo Sandoval, seventh at third base, and Denard Span, sixth in centerfield.

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