Julio Rodriguez was announced earlier this morning as a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the American League. This is the first time that Julio has been nominated for the award in his short career. Julio, along with fellow Center Fielders Kevin Kiermaier of the Toronto Blue Jays and Luis Robert Jr. of the Chicago White Sox, are the official nominations for the Award. But who is the favorite to win? Let's take a look at the numbers, and see who should win the award.
*Note: All stats are going to come from Fangraphs*
GG Finalist #1: Kevin Kiermaier, Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Kiermaier has long been known as a "Glove First" type player in the League. Kevin is a 3X winner of the Gold Glove award, winning them in 2015, 2016, and 2019. He also won the coveted "Platinum Glove" award back in 2015. That award is given to the best overall defensive player in the league. in 7676.2 career innings, he has committed just 23 career Errors. That is a crazy statistic. But how was he in 2023?
Kevin committed just three errors, two fielding, and one throwing. His fielding percentage was .989, and that ranks 12th among Major League centerfielders. Keirmaier played in just 127 games this season, but he was still masterful at his position. He has five Outfield Assists, and started two double plays this season. According to Fangraphs, Kevin had 18 Defensive Runs Saved, which is the most of any of the other finalists by far. Should Kiermaier win, it will be an award well-earned.
GG Finalist #2: Luis Robert Jr., Chicago White Sox
This is Luis Robert Jr.'s second nomination of his career. He won the award back in 2020, during his rookie year. Luis is definitely one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball. This season, Robert had 380 chances and committed just three errors. That is good enough for a .992 fielding percentage. His .992 fielding percentage ranks 10th in the Majors for centerfielders.
LouBob recorded 6 defensive runs saved over his 2023 season. He also started three Double Plays, which is the most among the finalists. Robert had seven outfield assists and had six defensive runs saved. Luis Robert showed why he is one of the best players in baseball, and he will be a finalist for this award for years to come.
GG Finalist #3: Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners
Julio Rodriguez is one of the League's best players. We all know about what he can do with a bat, but do you remember him silently robbing Fernando Tatis Jr. of a Home Run back in August? Or how about Julio robbing the Orioles' Ryan O'Hearn of a home run in Camden Yards? Julio is the true definition of "No Fly Zone". But what do the stats say? Is he the favorite to win the award?
Julio committed just two errors in his 355 chances, one fielding error, and one throwing error. He had the least amount of errors among the finalists. His .994 fielding percentage was tied for 6th in all of baseball, with Atlanta Braves star Michael Harris II. He was ranked 3rd in the American League behind Myles Straw of the Cleveland Guardians and Leody Tavares of the Texas Rangers.
What could hold Julio back from winning the award was his -5 defensive runs saved, which ranks near the bottom of all centerfielders in 2023. Julio did start two double plays in 2023 and had three outfield assists. Julio had a great year defensively, and I believe he will be a Gold Glove finalist for many years to come.
But who should be the favorite to win? My best guess is that Luis Robert Jr. will win the award. His defensive stats are very similar to Julio, but he has way more defensive runs saved. While LouBob may be the favorite, do not count Julio out of this. He was amazing defensively for the Mariners, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Winners will be announced on November 5th on ESPN. As always, Go Mariners!