Predicting Top Candidates for NL Golden Glove Awards

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2014 NL Gold Glove Award Projections

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Gold Glove Award is an annual award given to the top defensive player at each defensive position. It is the highest defensive honor a player can receive. The award, voted on by the managers and coaches from each league, has been the goal of defensive-minded players everywhere. If you are a Gold Glove winner, you are thought of as being the best defender at your given position.

Fielding percentage accounts for only so much and is not the sole basis for the award. Actually, several other considerations are taken into account through sabermetrics provided by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), which also considers things like range factor, etc. From there, the coaches and managers simply place their vote.

Throughout the years, there have been several players that have won Gold Gloves in consecutive seasons. Greg Maddux, Yadier Molina, and Jim Edmonds come to mind as some of the premiere defenders at their position. These days, it is very rare to see someone secure repeat wins year after year.

In the NL, Yadier Molina is in pursuit of his seventh consecutive Gold Glove Award. The only other defending award winner is Carlos Gonzalez, who is going for his third straight. These guys are the best of the best. To displace them, you truly have to be one of the premier defensive players paired with having a better year than the previous defender. To be quite honest, when the awards are left to human interpretation, in this case from coaches and managers, it's difficult for a new player to overshadow the established feelings said manager has for the previous award winner. Perhaps that is another reason why this award is so prestigious.

Without further ado, let's have a look at the 2014 projected Gold Glove Award winners for the National League.

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Pitcher: Zack Greinke

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Greinke was perfect in 2013, much like winner Adam Wainwright. Greinke found himself sitting at second in assists, top-five in range factor and also fielding percentage, which makes this one a bit of a toss-up. Pitcher is a difficult one to predict unless Greg Maddux is involved.

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Catcher: Yadier Molina

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The 2014 season will see Molina taking home his seventh consecutive Gold Glove Award. No further justification is needed.

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First Base: Adrian Gonzalez

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Gonzalez has been in the top of most defensive categories for the last several years of his career, including range factor (third in 2013), assists, double plays turned (first in 2013), and fielding percentage. If he can eliminate a few errors from his season total (11 in 2013), he will enter the 2015 season as the reigning 2014 Gold Glove winner.

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Second Base: Brandon Phillips

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The 32-year-old Brandon Phillips won his fourth Gold Glove Award in 2013. One thing you can say about Phillips is that he's a fairly consistent defender, averaging around five points better than the average NL second baseman over his career. 2013 was a bit of a down year statistically for him, but he still walked away with the win.

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Third Base: Chase Headley

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With Nolan Arenado not likely to repeat, look for a veteran to emerge to claim the 2014 award -- a guy like Chase Headley, for example. Headley saw substantial playing time earlier in his career as an outfielder, transitioning to third base full-time during the 2010 season. With some experience behind him and a 2012 Gold Glove in his trophy case, expect Headley to have a strong season at the hot corner in 2014.

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Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Rollins is the likely candidate to take home the award in 2014, as a repeat performance from Andrelton Simmons is unexpected. With four Gold Glove Awards already, Rollins just needs to have a traditional Jimmy Rollins season. His error numbers were up in 2012 and 2013 (13 and 11 respectively), and if he can find a way to keep his error totals in the single digits at the end of the year, it’s quite easy to see him winning his fifth Gold Glove Award.

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Left Field: Carlos Gonzalez

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There are some very worthy candidates, but it will be difficult for anyone to separate Carlos Gonzalez from his fourth Gold Glove Award if he has his usual defensive season.

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Center Field: Jon Jay

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Jay should have received some consideration for this award before this year as he's near the top in every defensive category. He played in 152 games at center field for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, committing only one error after making zero errors in 2012. He's a solid defender and he deserves to be part of the discussion.

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Right Field: Hunter Pence

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The dark horse of the whole bunch, Hunter Pence is due for a solid year in right field. Granted, Pence has been nothing above average for the majority of his career in right field, but perhaps that gives him the most upside of anyone in the mix.