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Tovar, Doyle and McMahon honored as finalists for the NL Gold Glove Award - Who will win?

Patrick Lyons Avatar
October 19, 2023

A trio of defenders for the Colorado Rockies have been named finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in the National League and one looks to be a lock to bring home the hardware. 3B Ryan McMahon, SS Ezequiel Tovar and CF Brenton Doyle were announced as finalists for the defensive honor at their respective position on Wednesday.

Should McMahon and Tovar be announced as winners on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m. MDT, they would become the first pair of infielders to take home the honors for Colorado since 2B DJ LeMahieu and 3B Nolan Arenado won in 2018. Doyle would be the first outfield winner for the Rockies since Carlos González in 2014.

“This season (McMahon’s) proven that he once again is one of the best defenders in the league and that’s proven by some of the metrics and the stats that are out, right? Well above average defender — the runs saved, all those numbers are positive for Mac,” manager Bud Black said during the year.

The three-time finalist was acknowledged as one of the top three at the hot corner by voters  — comprised of one manager and six coaches from each team — and a system created by the Society for American Baseball Research. Known as the SABR Defensive Index, SDI uses six different defensive metrics for evaluating performances. One of those data sources used for third baseman is fielding bunts, something McMahon is better at than most.

“I always play back. I know, just from kind of like the plays that make and my feel for the game, like I’m really good at coming in,” McMahon said. “I might not be the best side to side, so I feel like scooting back helps me with that. And I always trust myself going in.”

Nolan Arenado, winner of 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards at third base including the last six National League Platinum Glove Awards as the best overall defender, entered the year as a favorite to break a tie with Ichiro Suzuki and win his 11th-straight to start his career. However, his former teammate along with Atlanta’s Austin Riley and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes have ensured that will not happen during a season in which both his offensive and defensive numbers took a dip for the 32-year-old. 

Hayes may be the frontrunner for becoming the first third baseman not named Arenado to win the Gold Glove Award in the NL since Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres was selected in 2012. The 26-year-old was a finalist for the first time last season after posting the most defensive runs saved (24) in all of baseball. In 2021, he led all third baseman in DRS as well, but was not eligible for the award after not meeting the standard for minimum innings played because of a hand injury that forced him to miss much of the first two months.

Player DRS OAA
Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT 21 17
Ryan McMahon, COL 17 11
Austin Riley, ATL 9 0

If you ask McMahon, he might think Tovar deserves the hardware over himself. Playing with the shortstop as both a second baseman and third baseman, McMahon saw a lot of steadiness from the rookie.

“I don’t think people are really appreciating this kid. He’s what, 21, 22? Just turned 22. He plays the game like a 32-year-old vet who’s got all the feel in the world,” he said of Tovar’s defense. “It’s been special. It’s helped me with my game because I don’t have to be as quick going to the left because he has so much dang range and I think we’re covering a lot more ground over there…  It’s like playing with Trevor (Story).”

Tovar set a Major League record this season for a rookie shortstop with a .988 fielding percentage. Considering Troy Tulowitzki won a Gold Glove Award in 2011 with best fielding percentage (.991) in franchise history, there’s a case for Tovar following in those footsteps. Only Arenado in 2013 has ever won a Gold Glove as a rookie with the organization. 

By late August, the resume for the 22-year-old from Venezuela was already strong. Black went through the list of shortstops in the Senior Circuit and though he gave praise to several, he kept coming back to the argument for Tovar’s candidacy. “I just see our guy a lot and I just the difficulty in plays that he’s making look easy,” he said.

Of the other two finalists in the NL, Dansby Swanson of the Chicago Cubs has a statistical edge over Tovar according to the defensive metrics. Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets, not so much. Swanson, who signed a seven-year, $177 million deal last offseason, may be given the edge by voters as the 29-year-old veteran is the reigning NL Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop. Should Tovar win in his age-21 season, he’d become the youngest to receive the honor in Rockies history, besting Arenado’s feat during his age-22 season.

Player DRS OAA
Francisco Lindor, NYM 7 6
Dansby Swanson, CHC 18 20
Ezequiel Tovar, COL 13 16

Despite younger finalists such a 22-year-old Michael Harris II of Atlanta and 23-year-old Alek Thomas of the Arizona Diamondbacks in center field, Doyle is viewed as the one Rockie favored to win. The 25-year-old didn’t debut until April 24, but quickly displayed the elite range and arm he’d shown at every level of the minors.

Winner of a Minor League Gold Glove Award in 2021, Doyle ratted off 120 consecutive games without making an error to finish his season. His .997 fielding percentage set a new standard for outfield excellence in Colorado history for a full 162-game slate. (Charlie Blackmon had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage during the 60-game pandemic-shortened campaign.) His 19 DRS is by far the most for a Rockies centerfielder since Sports Info Solutions began tracking the stat in 2003; the previous high coming into the 2023 season just six.

Player DRS OAA
Brenton Doyle, COL 19 16
Michael Harris II, ATL 2 7
Alek Thomas, ARI 5 5

Though his range was impressive to the naked eye, it’s was his arm that has raised the most eyebrows. Among all position players this season, his 96.1 MPH average arm strength was the sixth-fastest. When narrowing things to center fielders, he owned six of the top seven strongest outfield assists. His 105.7 mph throw home on Sept. 2 was the hardest recorded in the Statcast Era (2015).

 

Diamond Details

  • A win for Tovar would make him the third shortstop to receive a Gold Glove Award following in the footsteps of Neifi Pérez in 2000 and Tulowitzki in 2010-11.
  • Arenado is the only NL Platinum Glove Award (2017-20) in team history.
  • Arenado has won the award eight times, more times than any Colorado defender. Walker is second with five Gold Gloves while Helton, González and LeMahieu have each won three times.
  • A pair of Rockies have taken home the top defensive honors seven different times, most recently in 2018 with Arenado and LeMahieu.
  • Colorado has been shut out of the Gold Glove Award in 11 different seasons: 1993-96, 2003, 2005-09 and 2021.
  • Eight players have a won the award with Colorado during their first 31 seasons of play:
    • OF Larry Walker (1997-99, 2001-02)
    • 1B Todd Helton (2001-02, 04)
    • SS Neifi Pérez (2000)
    • SS Troy Tulowitzki (2010-11)
    • OF Carlos González (2011, 2013-14)
    • 3B Nolan Arenado (2013-20)
    • 2B DJ LeMahieu (2014, 2017-18)
    • 2B Brendan Rodgers (2022)

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