In years past, the Gold Glove awards were influenced by name recognition and what was done with the bat. The voters are supposed to be taking defensive stats into further consideration. Regardless of personal feelings on defensive stats, D.J. LeMahieu‘s year with the glove was astounding. The starter for the Colorado Rockies deserves to win the Gold Glove for NL second basemen.
LeMahieu’s competition is Chase Utley and Brandon Phillips. Phillips missed 41 games and is a distant third in the competition. Utley played 147 games at second base and finished with a .985 fielding percentage. LeMahieu, a natural shortstop, played 144 games at second base with a .991 fielding percentage. He was perfect in the seven games he played at third base.
LeMahieu’s size is not typical for a second baseman. It helps his range, a category that Fangraphs says LeMahieu is second-best in the league behind only Utley. LeMahieu’s defensive wins above replacement of 11.8 (adjusted for positioning) is second in all of baseball behind only Dustin Pedroia. Utley is at 8.7 while Phillips finished with an 8.2. LeMahieu’s defensive runs saved number is at 16, which is 10 better than Phillips and 13 better than Utley.
Also, his ultimate zone rating, a more intricate versus of runs saved, was a career-best 10.7. That was good enough for third in baseball behind Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
LeMahieu may not be the marquee name, but he was the most consistent second baseman with the glove in the NL this season. He has shown great instincts and gets great jumps once the ball leaves the bat. His feet always seem to be in the right place, which allows him to make plays that range from ordinary to spectacular. LeMahieu has made the adjustment to second base look easy.
He may not be the household name, but LeMahieu should get the NL Gold Glove for second basemen. If it goes to Utley or Phillips, then it was handed out based on name and offensive numbers. It is time to look at the advance stats and hand the Gold Glove to the rightful winner.