Just as I predicted towards the end of the season, New York Mets’ center fielder Juan Lagares wasn’t going to win the National League Gold Glove Award. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to win it.
With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez and Denard Span, Lagares should have been at least a finalist for the award, if not the winner. The fact that Lagares wasn’t at least named a finalist is a testament to how meaningless the Gold Glove award has become and how incredibly flawed the decision-making is when it comes to handing out the award.
Lagares didn’t play a full season, which quite fairly hurt his chances, and being a rookie he didn’t have a lot of name recognition for the award. However, if those that decide the award watched the games and voted based on their eyes, Lagares would have been a serious contender. Few center fielders in baseball have mastered the nuances of the position like Lagares, getting great jumps on the ball and showcasing great range that make difficult plays look easy. It’s not always going to show up in stats, but by watching Lagares play, it’s impossible not to be impressed.
For the sake of stats, Lagares finished second among all National League outfielders with 15 assists, which is three more than the closest Gold Glove finalist. Considering the fact that he only played 116 games, that number could have been noticeably higher had he played a full season.
Eventually, Lagares is likely to win a Gold Glove at some point in his career; he’s too talented not to. But that doesn’t take away from the injustice of Lagares not even being a finalist for the award this season, when he clearly played like an elite center fielder for the entire time he was in the big leagues. Again, with all due respect to McCutchen, Gomez and Span, who are all good defensive players in their own right, Lagares deserved to win the Gold Glove Award this year.