When Rawlings announced the finalists for the annual Gold Glove Awards last week, a lot was made about Juan Soto’s inclusion in right field. His advanced metrics showed he was actually one of the worst defensive right fields in all of baseball this year.
Not a lot of attention was given to Victor Robles, however, since his inclusion in center field made more sense. Despite more struggles at the plate this year, the 25-year-old outfielder returned to a high level of defense in center.
But Robles was denied his first Gold Glove in his second time as a finalist for center field in the National League, losing to the Padres’ Trent Grisham last night.
Let’s compare the center fielders.
Robles’ 12 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) led all NL center fielders and ranked behind only the Royals’ Michael A. Taylor and the Guardians’ Myles Straw among all major league center fielders. He also had a 4.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), 1.8 arm rating, five outs above average, six runs above average and a 4.1 defensive rating, per FanGraphs. Robles recorded an NL-high seven outfield assists, while also having an NL-high six errors. In 971 ⅔ innings in center field, Robles had 340 putouts with a .983 fielding percentage.
Definitely Gold Glove finalist material. But apparently not good enough to win.
Grisham had eight DRS, a 4.0 UZR and a -2.2 arm rating, all significantly lower than Robles. But Grisham excelled with 13 outs above average, 12 runs above average and a 7.4 defensive rating. And while he only had three outfield assists, he only committed two errors with a .994 fielding percentage in 1,143 innings in center field.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks' Alek Thomas was a little more behind his fellow finalists. He finished with six DRS, a 4.2 UZR, -0.5 arm rating, six outs above average, five runs above average and a 2.8 defensive rating. Thomas had four assists and only three errors with a .991 field percentage, but in just 907 ⅓ innings.
Thomas’ lack of innings compared to the other two finalists might have hurt his chances. But the rookie will have plenty of time to compete for more Gold Gloves.
Robles and Grisham each put up strong enough numbers for either one of them to take home the award. But the NL managers and coaches who voted (they couldn't vote for players on their own teams) seemed to favor the Padres center fielder over the one here in Washington.
It could have gone either way. So what say you: Was Robles robbed of his first Gold Glove?