Span, Desmond come up short in Gold Glove voting

The Nationals will not have a Gold Glove winner this season.

Center fielder Denard Span and shortstop Ian Desmond, both named as finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions, came up short in the voting.

It was announced tonight on ESPN2 that Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez won the Gold Glove for best defensive National League center fielder, while Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons took home the award among NL shortstops.

It’s the first Gold Glove award for both players.

Span appeared to have at least a decent shot at winning his first career Gold Glove after posting an error-free season. The Nats center fielder had 384 chances in 1,300 2/3 defensive innings and was not credited with a single error, but ranked well behind Gomez in a couple key defensive metrics.

Gomez had a 24.4 UZR (ultimate zone rating), tops among all major league center fielders by a wide margin, and a 2.78 range factor, ranking first among NL center fielders. He did, however, make five errors in 408 chances (a .988 fielding percentage).

The 29-year-old Span had a 10.2 UZR and 2.51 range factor, while Andrew McCutchen, the third finalist among NL center fielders, made six errors in 338 chances (a .982 fielding percentage), had a 6.9 UZR and a 2.14 range factor.

For those who are unfamiliar, UZR is the most widely used defensive metric in today’s game. It attempts to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess, incorporating the player’s range, arm and error totals.

That advanced metric was one of a few that were especially important this year after Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Gold Glove selection process for the first time, as part of a new collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The SABR Defensive Index accounted for approximately 25 percent of the Gold Glove selection process, with voting from managers and coaches still carrying most of the weight.

This marked the second year in a row in which Desmond was named a Gold Glove finalist, but he has now seen fellow NL East shortstops win the award both times.

Last year, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins took home the hardware. This year, it’s Simmons, who had a UZR of 24.6, far and away the best among big league shortstops. The smooth-fielding Simmons committed 14 errors in 753 chances (a .981 fielding percentage) and had a 4.74 range factor.

Desmond had a 4.4 UZR, committed 20 errors in 700 chances (a .971 fielding percentage) and had a 4.30 range factor. The Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki was the third finalist among NL shortstops; he had a 6.6 UZR, made eight errors in 570 chances (.986 fielding percentage) and had a 4.64 range factor.

There are still just three Washington-based major leaguers to have won a Gold Glove - Adam LaRoche (2012), Ryan Zimmerman (2009) and Senators catcher Earl Battey (1960).

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