For the second straight year, the Nationals have had two players selected as finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.
The Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Desmond will go up against the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons and the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki for the Gold Glove among National League shortstops.
Span will be going up against the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen for the Gold Glove among NL center fielders.
Desmond committed 20 errors this season and had a fielding percentage of .971, which ranked ninth among 10 qualified shortstops in the NL. He ranked fifth in UZR (ultimate zone rating) among NL shortstops, according to Fangraphs, but his UZR of 4.4 is well behind Simmons, who had a UZR of 24.6, committed 14 errors and had a .981 fielding percentage this season.
Scouts rave about Simmons’ defensive ability, and he will go in as the clear favorite to take home the Gold Glove. He also led NL shortstops in range factor, posting a 4.74 in that category, compared to 4.64 for Tulowitzki and 4.30 for Desmond.
Span, meanwhile, would seem to have a decent shot to come out with the Gold Glove among center fielders, although Gomez is probably the favorite. The 29-year-old Span didn’t commit a single error this season in 384 chances, posted a 10.2 UZR and had a 2.51 range factor.
Gomez, meanwhile, made five errors this season, but is viewed more favorably by the defensive metrics. He posted a 24.4 UZR and 2.78 range factor. McCutchen posted a 6.9 UZR, 2.14 range factor and led qualifying NL center fielders with six errors.
Defensive metrics are in many ways still a work in progress, and some don’t completely trust the numbers that they provide. But based on many of those numbers, at least, Desmond and Span seem to be underdogs going into Tuesday’s Gold Glove announcements.