It’s no secret 2020 has been weird and different. The Gold Glove finalist selection was determined by numbers rather than votes this year. The numbers were kind to the Chicago Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs ended up with seven Gold Glove finalists. They have two of the three finalists for pitchers, Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills. Somehow, a Gold Glove would not even be Mills’ greatest accomplishment in 2020; ask the Milwaukee Brewers.
Willson Contreras, who made strides defensively this year, is a finalist for catchers. Gold Glove mainstay Anthony Rizzo has a shot at winning another one as well. One of the more questionable finalists is Nico Hoerner at second base, and that’s mostly because Hoerner didn’t play nearly enough games at second base or overall.
Javier Baez is a finalist at shortstop, which is no surprise. He is arguably the surest handed defensive shortstop in the game. The last finalist has already won five Gold Gloves, and two with the Cubs, Jason Heyward.
Rizzo is the only other Cubs’ finalist that has won a Gold Glove in the past. He has won three awards, including the last two at first base; along with his old gloves, he won a Platinum Glove in 2016, the same year as his first Gold Glove. The Platinum Glove is awarded to the best defensive player in the league regardless of position. Paul Goldschmidt and Brandon Belt are the other two finalists, along with Rizzo.
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Heyward hasn’t won a Gold Glove since 2017, and with Mookie Betts as another finalist at Heyward’s position, he may not win it again in 2020. All three finalists at catcher are from the National League Central, with Tucker Barnhart and Jacob Stallings joining Contreras. The same goes for second base, with Adam Frazier and Kolten Wong joining Hoerner. Wong won his first Gold Glove in 2019.
Hoerner put up 5 Defensive Runs Saved at second base, compared to Wong’s 6 DRS and Frazier’s 4 DRS. His up-the-middle counterpart, Baez, posted 7 DRS. The other shortstop finalists, Miguel Rojas and Dansby Swanson posted 2 DRS and 10 DRS, respectively.
Contreras posted just 1 DRS behind the plate. Stallings posted 7, while Barnhart put up a 9 DRS behind the dish. Fangraphs provided all numbers.
If the awards are being decided by stats in 2020 rather than a vote, then the numbers don’t stack up well for Cubs’ finalists. Nonetheless, having seven Gold Glove finalists is an accomplishment itself and speaks to how well the Cubs played in the field throughout the shortened season.
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All these players would want the Gold Glove award as a feather in their hat and a career accomplishment, especially if they all won the award at their respective positions. It would especially feel good for Contreras, who has put in so much time and effort to get better and be an excellent catcher.