The 2014 Gold Glove finalists have been announced, and Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley are among the nominees. or a long time the award seemed to have as much to do with honoring good hitters and famous players, which explained Rafael Palmeiro winning one in a season where he was a DH 75% of the time, and Derek Jeterwinning five of them. I think they've gotten better in recent years, though you'll see that at least at the nominee level, there are still some questionable choices. Here's a rundown of the three American League finalists at each position.
- Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
- Felix Hernandez, Mariners
- Dallas Keuchel, Astros
Buehrle has long been one of the best defenders at his position, and so I tend to think he'll take home this honor, and I think he'd be a deserving winner, especially when you factor in his ability to contain the running game. It would be Buehrle's 5th award.
- Alex Avila, Tigers
- Yan Gomes, Indians
- Salvador Perez, Royals
The Royals were the best defensive team in baseball, Perez was an All-Star this season, and he won this award last year. For those reasons, I strongly suspect he'll win this one. I think Gomes is better than him though, and if I had a vote from among these finalists, Yan would be my choice. Seattle's Mike Zunino might be my pick if he were nominated, because he's the best pitch framer in the league, and that should be a big factor.
- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
- Eric Hosmer, Royals
- Albert Pujols, Angels
Here's where you here the needle skip and the record scratch. I'd say Cabrera has improved at first base, but become a good defender he has not. Hosmer doesn't strike me as a very good one either (though I'll admit he's made some nice plays this postseason). I think Carlos Santana did about as well as either of those two. Pujols isn't as good with the glove as he used to be, but I think he's got to be the winner here. It would be Pujols' 3rd award.
- Robinson Cano, Mariners
- Ian Kinsler, Tigers
- Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
At first glance this might seem like another position where the nominees were chosen largely based on offense, but it turns out they're generally a pretty good group defensively as well... two of them anyway. Pedroia and Kinsler are pretty comfortably the two best in the league, with Pedroia having enough of an edge that he should win, and probably will. It would be his 4th award.
- Adrian Beltre, Rangers
- Josh Donaldson, Athletics
- Kyle Seager, Mariners
I think these are the right three nominees. Beltre has a been a tremendous defender durin his career (and merits Hall of Fame enshrinement), but I think he's below the other two here, who are an interesting contrast. Donaldson has incredible range, but made a whopping 17 throwing errors, while Seager has pretty average range, but very rarely misplays anything, and has a great arm. I think Donaldson's range leads to more outs than his errors cost his team, and he'd have my vote, but I expect Seager to win, because Donaldson's error total will be too high for many voters. It would be Seager's first award.
- Alcides Escobar, Royals
- J.J. Hardy, Orioles
- Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Raise your hand if you thought Jeter would be among the nominees... Well, that's a relief. Hardy has good range and a good arm, and he won this award the last two years. He deserves to win a third one, and I expect he will. There is some possibility that a wave of pro-Royals sentiment (based on their strength defensively as a team) will raise Escobar into this spot, but I doubt it.
- Michael Brantley, Indians
- Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics/Red Sox
- Alex Gordon, Royals
Brantley is a player many fans give strong grades to with the eye test, but who scores very poorly with advanced metrics, primarily because his range receives low marks. He doesn't make many errors, and he has a strong arm, but we probably aren't noticing the plays he's not making because he's not there to make them. In any event, even if you think the metrics are off on him, I don't think many would argue he's Gordon's equal. Gordon has won the last three awards, and I'm pretty confident he'll (deservedly) win again this year.
- Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox
- Adam Eaton, White Sox
- Adam Jones, Orioles
Kansas City's Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain are both really good, but neither played enough to gain enough attention, I suppose. From among these three I have to think it will be Bradley or Jones. Frankly I'm a little surprised Eaton was nominated. Bradley would have my vote, but Jones is higher profile, so I expect him to win (despite being little better than average), as he did each of the last two years.
- Kole Calhoun, Angels
- Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
- Nick Markakis, Orioles
Kiermaier is great, but I was really surprised to see him nominated because he only played about 55% of his team's innings this season. Despite relatively little playing time, he'd get my vote here, because I don't see the other two nominees as anything better than average. Markakis has by far the most name recognition, and won one of these back in 2011, so I guess he's who I expect to win this time.
My best guess is the Indians go 0 for 2 here. Gomes may very well deserve to win, and it wouldn't be a complete shock if he did, but I'm not counting on it. Brantley would be a complete shock, but it's fun to see him nominated.
Winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 4.