Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp Highlight Five Dodgers Gold Glove Finalists

The annual Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be announced on Tuesday night, and this year there are several changes to the process. For one, the announcement will be televised for the first time ever, as ESPN will broadcast the awards at 7 p.m. PDT. Secondly, the outfield for the first time has been split into three positions rather than the nebulous "outfield" distinction. In addition, there were three "finalists" announced for each of the nine positions in each league, a new wrinkle to the proceedings.

The Gold Glove Awards are voted on by the managers and coaches in each league, with the caveat that the voters cannot vote for players on their own team. The Dodgers have five Gold Glove finalists, including soon-to-be award circuit veterans Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Here is a look at each position involving the Dodgers.

Pitcher

Finalists: Kershaw, Dodgers; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals

The Dodgers nearly cornered the market on pitcher fielding here, with two of the three finalists. Kershaw is probably the favorite here, if only because he is the most famous. Voting is often done on reputation, and Kershaw's brilliance on the mound in 2011 put him in the front of the minds of opposing coaches.

Pitcher fielding is hard enough to quantify without having to wonder whether or not pickoffs should fall under the realm of defensive play. But if they are, Kershaw picked 10 runners of base this year, more than anyone in baseball except James Shields. But for a more standard example of Kershaw's fielding prowess, check out this play from June 26:

Kuroda had no errors in his 51 chances, tied with Lohse for the most chances in baseball without a miscue. Kuroda was part of five double plays, tied for third-most in baseball. Here is a play by Kuroda from July 16, with bonus points for indirectly trying to help his teammate Kershaw lead the National League in wins:

Club history: There have only been four Dodgers pitchers to win a Gold Glove. Andy Messersmith won a pair in 1974-1975 and was so good he decided to see what he was worth on the open market. Fernando Valenzuela won 21 games in 1986, and added a Gold Glove to his mantel. Greg Maddux was acquired twice by the Dodgers in post All-Star break deals, in 2006 and 2008, and he won in both seasons, part of an amazing run of 18 in 19 years for the all-time leader in Gold Gloves.

Kershaw will try to match Orel Hershiser, who in 1988 won both the Gold Glove and Cy Young Award. The only other pitchers to take home both honors in the same season are Maddux (1992-1995), Bret Saberhagen (1989), Jim Palmer (1976), and Bob Gibson (1968, 1970).

 

First Base

Finalists: James Loney, Dodgers; Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds; Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins

Here is a position we can measure a little more easily. These three players happened to be the top three in the NL in Ultimate Zone Rating and UZR/150 per FanGraphs, though Total Zone Runs Above Average on Baseball-Reference.com is a bit more disparate:

Finalist UZR UZR/150 Total Zone
Votto +7.4 (1st) +6.8 (1st) +7 (6th)
Sanchez +5.0 (2nd) +4.4 (3rd) +9 (2nd)
Loney +4.6 (3rd) +5.6 (2nd) -2 (t-6th)
Minimum 700 innings

Loney and Votto each had four assists to home plate during the season, as did Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers (Dodgers triple play, anyone?), and Sanchez led the NL with five assists to home plate. Loney certainly had his share of highlight plays in the field. Here is one example, from September 1:

Club history: First base is the Dodgers' most golden of positions, with 13 Gold Gloves among three players. Gil Hodges won the first three NL awards at first base (1957-1959), cyclist Wes Parker won six straight awards (1967-1972), then Steve Garvey took home four consecutive honors (1974-1977). Garvey in 1977 was the last Dodger first baseman to win a Gold Glove.

Center Field

Finalists: Kemp, Dodgers; Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks; Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies

Victorino has won a Gold Glove in each of the last three years and might be the favorite, but as the theory goes Matt Kemp hit well enough to win the award. Kemp won a Gold Glove in 2009. But as mentioned before the outfield will be split into three specific positions this year for the first time, which is a change from center fielders capturing 28 of the 34 NL outfield Gold Gloves in the past 11 years (there was a tie in 2007, and four outfielders won Gold Gloves, which accounts for the extra award during that span).

Young is the runaway leader in UZR among National League center fielders, while Kemp was rated below average. Young was tops in Total Zone rating too, while Kemp led NL center fielders with 11 assists.

Finalist Assists UZR UZR/150 Total Zone dWAR
Young 4 (t11th) +14.1 (1st) +12.9 (3rd) +18 (1st) +1.8
Kemp 11 (1st) -4.6 (10th) -4.7 (10th) +9 (6th) +1.0
Victorino 0 (tLOL) +4.4 (6th) +5.7 (6th) +5 (t9th) +0.5
Minimum 700 innings

Here is one of Kemp's 11 assists, erasing Omar Infante in Miami on April 25:

Club history: Dodgers center fielders to win Gold Gloves are Willie Davis (1971-1973), Steve Finley (2004), and Kemp (2009).

Right Field

Finalists: Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Carlos Beltran, New York Mets / San Francisco Giants; Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

This is the most controversial of the Dodgers' finalists, as the advanced fielding stats never seemed to rate Ethier very highly at all. Until this year, that is. Ethier was third in the National League in UZR, the only one of the three right field finalists rated above average. All three of the finalists are near the bottom of the league in Total Zone rating.

Finalist Assists UZR UZR/150 Total Zone dWAR
Ethier 8 (t7th) +5.3 (3rd) +6.8 (t2nd) -8 (t9th) -0.8
Bruce 10 (t2nd) -0.8 (7th) -0.7 (7th) -11 (t11th) -1.1
Beltran 10 (t2nd) -7.3 (11th) -9.2 (11th) -5 (7th) -0.6
Minimum 700 innings

Ethier was limited to just 126 games in right field this year, the least of the three finalists. Ethier had 62 fewer defensive innings than Beltran, and was 280 innings shy of Bruce. Here is a nice sliding catch by Ethier on a rainy night in San Diego on April 8:

Club history: The only Dodgers right fielder to win a Gold Glove was Raul Mondesi, who picked up the honors in 1995 and 1997.

Other Dodgers Gold Glove Winners

Aside from the positions above, here are the other Dodgers to win a Gold Glove, an award that has been given out since 1957:

  • Catcher: John Roseboro (1961, 1966), Charles Johnson (1998), Russell Martin (2007)
  • Second Base: Charlie Neal (1959), Davey Lopes (1978), Orlando Hudson (2009)
  • Shortstop: Maury Wills (1961-1962), Cesar Izturis (2004)
  • Left Field: Wally Moon (1960) and Dusty Baker (1981) each won when the award was simply awarded to three outfielders in each league regardless of position

The most Gold Glove winners the Dodgers have had in any single season is two, which they have done eight times: 1959, 1961, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 2004, and 2009.

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