It’s been a year of recognition for Orioles’ rightfielder Anthony Santander. Even though he missed the final 23 games of the 2020 season because of an oblique injury, Santander was voted Most Valuable Oriole. On Thursday, he was named one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove.
Santander’s American League right field competition is New York’s Clint Frazier and Texas’ Joey Gallo.
According to BaseballReference.com, Santander had a .7 Defensive WAR. Santander played 35 games in right field, one in left and was the designated hitter in one.
In 2019, Santander made two errors, one fielding and one throwing. He started 50 games in right field, 40 in left and 24 in center. This year, Santander made three errors, all throwing, and was generally lauded for his improved defense.
According to FanGraphs, Santander had eight defensive runs saved in right, three more than in 2019.
The Gold Glove winners will be announced on November 3rd on ESPN at 7 p.m.
This year, the calculations won’t include votes from managers and coaches. It will be based solely on the SABR Defensive Index.
According to SABR, “The SDI draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts, including data from MLBAM’s Statcast, Sports Information Solutions, and STATS, LLC.”
In September, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde campaigned for Cedric Mullins to receive recognition for his play in center field.
“I’m going to go on record here and say you have start considering Cedric Mullins a Gold Glover,” Hyde said. “He’s played Gold Glove-type defense this whole entire season. I can’t remember a play … he didn’t make. He’s made so many great plays and, not only that, but run-saving plays, big plays in big spots. He makes the tough play look easy. Some of those plays on balls over his head that he just glides and gets to, those are really difficult plays that a lot of guys don’t get to.
“I knew he was a good defender. I saw him a little bit last year. I [saw] him in spring training, but this has opened my eyes. This is an elite center fielder that should be in the Gold Glove consideration.”
Mullins, who started 36 games in center, was not a finalist. According to FanGraphs, Mullins had no defensive runs saved.
Interestingly, two of the American League East’s most prominent defensive centerfielders, Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier, were not finalists, either. Bradley won the Gold Glove in 2018, and Kiermaier, last year.
Bradley questioned his exclusion on Twitter. “I just don’t understand, and I have yet to have anyone from any analytics department explain to me how they ‘calculate’ the ‘numbers’ or better yet how can you physically improve on them as a player.”
The “Fielding Bible,” another widely followed award, lists Gallo as its right field favorite. It ranks Santander ahead of Frazier.
The Orioles have an impressive Gold Glove history. Brooks Robinson won 16 straight awards at third base from 1960-1975. Centerfielder Paul Blair won eight in the outfield, in 1967 and from 1969-1975. At that time, outfield Gold Gloves were not given for specific positions.
Blair was the only Oriole outfielder to win a Gold Glove until Adam Jones won four, in 2009 and from 2012-2014. Nick Markakis won in 2011 and 2014. Outfield positions were first recognized in 2011.
Manny Machado was the last Oriole to win a Gold Glove, at third base in 2015.
Award time: Despite the shortened 2020 season, a full plate of awards will be handed out.
Former Oriole Nelson Cruz won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award in the annual Player’s Choice awards from the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The four major award winners will be announced from November 9-12.
Originally, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, whose members vote on the awards, had agreed that they’d be announced in conjunction with the annual general managers meetings in Las Vegas but, because of the pandemic, that’s been scuttled for at least this year.
The Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle is expected to get some support for Rookie of the Year. Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis is the favorite to win.
If Mountcastle doesn’t win, he and Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena are still eligible in 2021.
Pitcher Gregg Olson was the last Oriole to win the award in 1980. John Means came in second last year.
No Oriole is expected to be a finalist for the Manager of the Year, Cy Young or Most Valuable Player.
Buck Showalter won the Manager of the Year in 2014. Cal Ripken Jr. was the last Orioles MVP in 1991, and Steve Stone, who set a club record of 25 wins, was the last Orioles Cy Young winner.