Winners of the 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced tonight, and no Philadelphia Phillies players were honored. That might be expected for a team that finished with the worst overall record in baseball – but were any of the Phils’ players overlooked in the selection process?
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Voting by Major League Baseball managers and coaches makes up 75% of that selection process. However, the remaining 25% comes from the SABR Defensive Index.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is one of the most respected institutions in the game today, and their Defensive Index has been used for the last three seasons to help select the Gold Glove winners.
That Defensive Index from the group is compiled by the SABR Defensive Committee, currently made up of SABR President Vince Gennaro, Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference, Ben Jedlovec of Baseball Info Solutions, SABR Director F.X. Flinn, author and defensive metrics expert Chris Dial, and author Michael Humphreys.
Not only did no Phillies player win a Gold Glove, but when finalists were announced two weeks ago, none were even nominated. However, a glance at the SABR Defensive Index leaderboard for the 2015 season shows that perhaps at least one Phillies player should have been considered more seriously, and at least received a nomination.
Rookie center fielder Odubel Herrera finished as the 12th-highest National League player overall in this year’s SDI. He was also the top ranked center fielder, the 2nd ranked overall outfielder in the senior circuit.
Among the NL’s pitchers, Cole Hamels finished 26th and Aaron Harang 38th in the 2015 SDI. Phillies’ veterans Ryan Howard (12th) and Carlos Ruiz (14th) were way back in the pack at their respective 1st base and catching positions. Cesar Hernandez finished in 12th among NL 2nd basemen, while Freddy Galvis finished 13th at shortstop. As an interesting side note here, Jimmy Rollins finished in 11th position among shortstops.
Joining Herrera in being ranked by the SABR Defensive Index in the outfield, Ben Revere finished in 3rd position among left fielders for his work while with the Phillies, and Cody Asche finished in 11th place.
No Phillies finished among the Top 10 or so at their positions at either 3rd base or right field, where Maikel Franco and Jeff Francoeur might have been expected by some fans of the team to have finished well. Franco was not called up until mid-May, and then missed a couple of months due to injury.
According to the SABR website, their Defensive Index “draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based date, and those collected from play-by-play accounts.”
While Herrera finished at the top of the SDI, he was passed over for a nomination as one of three NL finalists. Of those three, only the Cincinnati Reds’ Billy Hamilton finished close in the SABR rankings. The other two nominees were the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ A.J. Pollock, the latter of whom was announced tonight as the 2015 Gold Glove winner.
While some Phillies fans might scoff at the idea that Herrera was deserving of a Gold Glove Award, the statistics show that at the very least, he should have been considered as a finalist.
In his first season as an outfielder, Herrera got better and better as the year went along. Turning 24 years old at the end of next month, ‘El Torito’ showed that he should be an important part of the club’s rebuilding plans moving forward.