Seattle Mariners fans are well aware that JP Crawford is one of the best fielding shortstops in the game, and after earning the AL Gold Glove at shortstop last season, the rest of the league has finally taken notice as well.
Crawford had another excellent year in the field this season, finishing 2nd among AL shortstops with 82 double plays and 388 assists, and 5th in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with eight. While he is not at the top of the leaderboard in any major fielding category, Crawford still has a case to be voted in as a Gold Glove finalist and potentially win the award.
The biggest knock against Crawford’s fielding this year is his 0.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), which is often deemed as the most important advanced fielding metric. That rating is solid, but when considering Kansas City’s Nicky Lopez posted a 5.2, and Houston’s Carlos Correa put up a 2.3, his UZR all of a sudden appears mediocre. Correa also posted an incredible 21 DRS, which adds another roadblock to Crawford’s chances at taking home the Gold Glove.
The most important factor in JP Crawford’s case to win the AL Gold Glove at shortstop is MLB’s voting process for the award.
When voting for Gold Glove winners, managers and coaches of each team account for about 75% of the vote, while the other 25% is determined by advanced fielding metrics. So, while Crawford’s advanced metrics won’t blow anyone away, the “eye test” will likely work in his favor; Crawford has been known throughout his young career for making dazzling plays in the infield, and that reputation lived on through this season.
Another factor at play (that some fans may disagree with) in Crawford’s Gold Glove pursuit is Astros shortstop Carlos Correa’s relatively negative reputation around the league. Correa was a superstar on the Astros’ 2017 World Series-winning team that has since been proven to have cheated its way to a championship via electronic sign-stealing, and it’s very possible that any remaining distaste for Correa’s actions could impact coaches’ decisions to check his name on any ballot.
Keep an eye out for the announcement of Gold Glove finalists this Thursday, October 28th; the first domino could fall in Crawford’s pursuit of a second consecutive Gold Glove.