Daulton Varsho and Alejandro Kirk should have won Gold Glove Awards
Photo credit:© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
21 days ago
There’s highway robbery, and then there’s whatever the 2023 Gold Glove awards were.
As you may know, there were three Blue Jays players that won a Gold Glove on Sunday evening: Kevin Kiermaier for centre field, Matt Chapman for third base, and José Berríos for pitcher. However, two other Blue Jays should also have taken home hardware — Daulton Varsho and Alejandro Kirk.
I’m going to go through the cases for why both Varsho and Kirk should have won.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is arguably the best metric to evaluate defence from fielders. We’re going to use it a lot in this article, with Outs Above Average (OAA), a newer metric, being used for this section.
The stat DRS was created by the Fielding Bible and is featured on Fangraphs. When looking at DRS leaders throughout the league, you may notice that Varsho’s 18 DRS ranks tied for sixth, along with Kiermaier.
What it doesn’t show you though, is the fact that it only factors in his centre field DRS, and not his DRS accumulated from playing left field. If you add in his 11 DRS in 817.2 innings fielded at left field, you come to a sum of 29, which is the highest in the league.
Yes, Fernando Tatis Jr. has 29 DRS in right field, but he actually posted a -2 DRS in centre field in just 30 innings.
Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan accumulated 16 DRS in 1352 innings in left field, winning the American League Gold Glove for the position. However, Varsho (who was nominated for the award), was the best defender in all of the spot, and he came away empty-handed in the 2023 awards.
Varsho not being recognized with a Gold Glove is an absolute travesty.
Using Defensive Runs Saved again, we can see that Kirk had the second-highest figure for any catcher, just behind former Blue Jay Gabriel Moreno, who ended up winning the Gold Glove Award for the National League.
Would you like to take a guess as to who the best blocking catcher is in the American League? Of course it’s Kirk, who had 14 Blocks Above Average, a metric that is measured by Baseball Savant.
Kirk was also an above-average pitcher framer, posting a 5 Catcher Framing Runs, another metric from Baseball Savant that converts strikes to saved runs. This was matched by the eye-test, as Kirk did an admirable job catching and calling games to a pretty diverse group of starting pitchers on the Blue Jays.
In comparison, Jonah Heim, the American League Gold Glove winner for catcher, had a 10 CFR, but earned 0 BAA behind the plate. There’s a case that his arm was better at throwing out runners, as he threw out 24 of them for a 29.3 caught-stealing rate. This is significantly better than Kirk’s 18.1 caught stealing percentage.
However, when all is said and done, DRS is a stat that combines these three aspects of catching. Kirk earned an incredible 17 DRS in just 775 innings caught, whereas Heim only earned a 6 RS in 993.1 innings caught.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.
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