This week, the Cubs won the first National League Gold Glove Team Award.
While it may come as little consolation to fans still smarting from another disappointing ending from the Chicago Cubs in the 2020 postseason, the awards season has already been very kind to the North Siders. Heck, with a chance to add a Cy Young award on Wednesday, it might even get better.
Chicago already amassed seven nominees for Gold Gloves as Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Nico Hoerner, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward, Alec Mills, and Kyle Hendricks all made the cut in the Senior Circuit. In addition to the seven nominees, the Cubs netted two winners – first-time winner Baez and a fourth for Rizzo.
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So, with seven nominees and two guys now sporting fresh garish glove trophies in their trophy case, is it any surprise that the Cubs are one of the best defensive teams in the National League and all of baseball? Of course not, except that’s never really been cause for acclamation outside of statistical analysis or maybe when also hoisting another piece of hardware in November like in 2016.
That is until 2020 of all years. For the first time in the 64 years of handing out Gold Gloves for great individual play on defense, Rawlings decided they were going to give a team award for the best defensive unit in each league.
To come to this conclusion, Rawlings used the SABR Defensive Index, which takes statistics from Statcast, Sports Info Solutions, STATS, LLC, as well as other metrics. The Cubs led the way in the NL, just barely edging out the rival Cards 21.9 to 21.6.
The Cubs were actually the best team in all of baseball using the SABR Defensive Index, as the AL Winner of the Team Gold Glove was their 2016 World Series counterparts, the Cleveland Indians, at 17.2.
In case you have no idea what this Index is all about or how it’s measured, here’s some more information as well as individual leaders. If you don’t care, and you’re just interested in the Cubs numbers, here they are:
- Willson Contreras: 2.2
- Anthony Rizzo: 3.5
- Nico Hoerner: 2.4
- Javier Baez: 6.0
- David Bote: -1.5 (Kris Bryant didn’t qualify)
- Kyle Schwarber: -0.8 (much better than Pollock, Soto, Yelich, and McCutchen, FYI)
- Ian Happ: -1.5
- Jason Heyward: 2.7
- Alec Mills: 1.7
- Kyle Hendricks: 1.6
- Yu Darvish: 0.5
- Jon Lester: -0.5
As you can see, Baez was by far the best defensive player on the team, which should come as no surprise if you’ve actually watched him play basically ever. After that, you have the other Gold Glove winner, Rizzo and then one of the best defensive right fielders in the game over the last decade, Heyward.
Oddly though, the next-best defensive player for the Cubs is a guy who played only 37 games and 208 innings at second base. Granted, he also played six games at third base, 10 games at shortstop, and two games in the outfield, but pretty interesting that Hoerner graded out that well defensively nonetheless.
Overall, despite the ending no fan wanted, there were more positives from the season than many fans would have you believe. Defense, for sure, was a big one, and this latest award only proves it.