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10 Players on Early Track for 2014 Gold Glove Awards

2014 Gold Glove Awards: 10 Early Candidates

darwin barney gold glove
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Measuring defense has been one of the most debated aspects of baseball with the advent of advanced metrics that can change a person’s perspective on which players are the best defenders in the game. This season will see some deserved first-time winners, as well as other elite defenders establishing themselves as perennial Gold Glovers. These five American League players and five National League players are on track to take home a Gold Glove.

10. Yadier Molina, C

Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals
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10. Yadier Molina, C

Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals
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Yadier Molina has won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards, and his streak shouldn’t come to an end anytime soon. Molina does everything well behind the plate, but his biggest strength may be his arm as he has thrown out eight base-stealers in 16 attempts this year.

9. Brian Dozier, 2B

Brian Dozier Minnesota Twins
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9. Brian Dozier, 2B

Brian Dozier Minnesota Twins
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By the defensive metric UZR, which quantifies how many runs a player has saved on defense, Brian Dozier is the top-ranked second baseman in the league with a UZR of 3.4. Dozier has never won a Gold Glove and would replace Dustin Pedroia as the reigning winner in the American League.

8. Brandon Phillips, 2B

Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds
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8. Brandon Phillips, 2B

Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds
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Brandon Phillips is the No. 2 ranked second baseman in UZR at 3.3 and will likely win his fifth total Gold Glove Award in the National League at the end of the season.

7. Josh Donaldson, 3B

Josh Donaldson Oakland Athletics
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7. Josh Donaldson, 3B

Josh Donaldson Oakland Athletics
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Josh Donaldson is a converted catcher who began playing third base in 2012, but no one has been better defensively at third so far than JD. Donaldson has a total of seven Defensive Runs Saved this year and also ranks No. 1 in UZR among MLB third basemen at 4.5. If he can continue to play defense at this level, he has a chance to replace incumbent Manny Machado in the American League.

6. Nolan Arenado, 3B

Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies
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6. Nolan Arenado, 3B

Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies
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Nolan Arenado won his first Gold Glove Award in 2013 as a rookie and looks on track to win his second consecutive award in 2014. Arenado has six Defensive Runs Saved on the year, and his 3.8 UZR is tops in the National League for third basemen.

5. Alex Gordon, LF

Alex Gordon Kansas City Royals
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5. Alex Gordon, LF

Alex Gordon Kansas City Royals
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Alex Gordon has three consecutive Gold Glove Awards heading into 2014, and at his current pace, he’ll have No. 5 when the season is over. Gordon has three outfield assists already and is third overall in MLB among all defenders with a 7.5 UZR. With his continued brilliance in the outfield, Gordon should have no problem sustaining his streak of Gold Glove Awards.

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Troy Tulowitzki Colorado Rockies
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4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Troy Tulowitzki Colorado Rockies
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Currently Troy Tulowitzki has been better at the shortstop position than Andrelton Simmons, but it will be difficult to unseat Simmons as the National League Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop after his historic season on defense in 2013. While Simmons has been solid this season (3.0 UZR, two DRS), Tulowitzki has been incredible in the field so far with 10 Defensive Runs Saved and a 4.8 UZR.

3. Erick Aybar, SS

Erick Aybar Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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3. Erick Aybar, SS

Erick Aybar Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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Erick Aybar has not yet made an error this season at shortstop for the Angels, and at this rate he should have no problem unseating J.J. Hardy as the American League Gold Glove Award winner at short.

2. Jason Heyward, RF

Jason Heyward Atlanta Braves
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2. Jason Heyward, RF

Jason Heyward Atlanta Braves
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Jason Heyward is the total package in the outfield. He makes peerless jumps on the ball in the outfield and shows off an excellent arm in addition to his incredible range. He is currently No. 1 in baseball with a 10.0 UZR. He also has three outfield assists with nine Defensive Runs Saved and should win his second Gold Glove Award this year to begin a long consecutive run in the National League.

1. Mike Trout, CF

Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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1. Mike Trout, CF

Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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It’s hard to believe, but Mike Trout has not yet won a Gold Glove Award; 2014 should be his first. Trout is the top ranked defender in MLB according to FanGraphs, and his UZR of 8.5 puts him behind just Jason Heyward. Trout is a prolific defender and should break through this season for a well-deserved Gold Glove Award in the American League.