Predicting Top Candidates for 2014 AL Golden Glove Awards
AL Gold Glove Predictions
The Gold Glove is an award that recognizes the best defensive players in MLB. A lot of these players wouldn't get the recognition they deserve without the award as most of the baseball awards focus on the offensive numbers.
Over the course of a 162-game season, it takes a lot for players to stay healthy and make the routine plays day in and day out. Gold Glove winners do that and then some. To win a Gold Glove, you have to be defensively sound and continuously make the routine plays, as well as go the extra step get the ball that would be out of reach for the average fielder.
With the season just around the corner, it is time to look at the top candidates to win the awards this season. Last years awards were dominated by the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, who each had three players receive the award. Those players will be candidates to win the awards again this season, but will face stiff competition from other players.
Here's a look at some strong candidates to win the award at each position this season.
Catcher: Salvador Perez
Salvador Perez is the reigning Gold Glove winner at catcher, and he should repeat in 2014. Among qualifying catchers, Perez led the AL in assists by a catcher and in runners caught stealing. While he did commit seven errors, he did so in over 1,000 chances which ranked second in the AL, and was the only catcher worth more than 2.0 defensive wins above replacement. Perez was the best defensive catcher in the league last year and will be again in 2014.
First Base: Chris Davis
Chris Davis had a great year at the plate last year that overshadowed how well he plays at first base. Davis holds his own as a part of a very good defensive infield for the Baltimore Orioles. Davis led the AL in total chances and putouts last year, finishing second in the AL in fielding percentage. What separates Davis from the rest of the first baseman is his range factor, which is the highest of returning AL first baseman at 9.24. Davis should be able to keep this play up and be a favorite to win the Gold Glove this year.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
As long as he's healthy, Dustin Pedroia will be one of the favorites to win the Gold Glove at second base in the AL. Pedroia won the award for the third time in his career last year after leading second baseman in the AL in fielding percentage at .993 and defensive wins above replacement at 2.3. Pedroia also had 429 assists and turned 102 double plays. He is the favorite to win the award again entering the 2014 season.
Shortstop: Jose Iglesias
Jose Iglesias didn't qualify for the Gold Glove Award last year as he only appeared in 71 games, but he should be a favorite in his first full year in 2014. In just 269 chances, Iglesias had 173 assists and turned 47 double plays. Judging by the numbers that Iglesias put up in the limited playing time, he would have been in the conversation for a Gold Glove had he played a full year.
Third Base: Manny Machado
Manny Machado has established himself as the best defensive third baseman in baseball early in his career. His numbers from last season speak for themselves. Machado was no. 1 among third baseman in the AL in assists with 355, double plays with 42, fielding percentage at .973, range factor at 3.05, and he was worth 4.4 defensive wins above replacement. Machado is recovering from a knee injury suffered last season, but he should be healthy and dominant again this season. He is by far the favorite to win the award in 2014.
Left Field: Alex Gordon
Alex Gordon has one of the best outfield arms in baseball, which was evident last season as he had 17 outfield assists. Gordon also had a .997 fielding percentage, 2.24 range factor and was worth 1.3 defensive wins above replacement. Those numbers won Gordon the award last season, and he should repeat them this season and win again.
Center Field: Adam Jones
Adam Jones is another outfielder with a strong arm, and it makes him a leading candidate to repeat as the Gold Glove winner in center field. Jones led AL center fielders with 11 outfield assists while posting a .995 fielding percentage. Those stats, along with his 2.34 range factor, give him great odds to repeat in 2014.
Right Field: Alex Rios
Alex Rios is a very underrated defender in the outfield. He tied for the lead among AL right fielders in assists with nine and had a .991 fielding percentage. Rios also had a range factor of 2.21. Those numbers should have put Rios into the conversation to win the award, but they didn't. Watch for Rios to put up similar numbers this season and be in the running to win the award.
Pitcher: Justin Masterson
Justin Masterson is another underrated fielder at the pitcher position. He posted a .980 fielding percentage, committing only one error. He had 21 putouts and 27 assists last year and had a range factor of 2.24. Those are some great numbers for a pitcher. Masterson should find himself in the conversation for a Gold Glove season this year.