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DENVER – On Thursday afternoon, Major League Baseball and Rawlings unveiled the finalists for the 2018 Gold Glove awards, marking defensive excellence at each position.
With winners to be announced in early November, the biggest news out of this whole process for fans of the Colorado Rockies is not the two names from their club who are regulars on the list but rather a few notable omissions.
Of course, third baseman Nolan Arenado has been nominated for the sixth consecutive season, and will likely end up winning again, making him perfect in his bids to grab the award. He will duke it out with Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals and Travis Shaw (?) of the Milwaukee Brewers for the gold.
His longtime (but maybe not for a long time?) running mate, DJ LeMahieu, has a chance to win his third Gold Glove at second base, joining Kotlen Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals and Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs at that spot, each looking for their first.
While frustrating last season but palatable and understandable to not see Trevor Story’s name at shortstop, this year it’s laughable. Story had a decent argument for winning the thing considering his display at the position in 2018. His overall athleticism is the best you will currently find at short and his arm is as good as any. He made the habit of stealing singles up the middle with a gorgeous spin throw that ranks among the best in recent memory and can sling it from any arm angle with the best of them.
His size and speed combination make him capable of doing things most other shortstops can only dream of and he doesn’t give up any range or instincts for it. He was a major factor in how the Rockies were able to ride their run prevention game into the postseason with pitchers oftentimes even altering strategy knowing balls in play in his vicinity are likely to be converted into outs.
You can check out our video breakdown of Story’s defense here or read what LeMahieu had to say about whether or not the young Rockies shortstop has surpassed Brandon Crawford here. The three finalists at shortstop do all come from the NL West with Crawford of the Giants, Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Freddy Galvis of the San Diego Padres all getting nods.
The other name Colorado fans may or may not immediately think of depending on whether they are still riding high from the season of the hometown kid or forgetting that pitchers get nominated for these things to… is Kyle Freeland.
True, it can be difficult to measure defense anywhere (quite frankly, the best stats we have now are still misleading at best) and it can easily be argued that this is doubly true on the mound. Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks) has always fielded his position exceptionally well, Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves) is a great athlete and Clayton Richard (Padres) is a smart and steady defender, but Kyle Freeland combines all of those elements into a dynamic package capable not just of getting the job done but of wowing everyone watching.
This is a big part of the reason why the phrase “he competes” is used so often to describe Freeland that I’m pretty sure it’s his legal middle name by now.
Because it is still so difficult to measure defense in baseball in a purely objective way, an argument can certainly be made for each of the players who were nominated this season.
The exclusion of Freeland isn’t likely to raise a ton of eyebrows the lack of Trevor Story on the list below almost certainly will.
2018 Gold Glove Nominees: