On Thursday, Rawlings announced the finalists for all 18 Gold Glove award races, with three players being listed for each position in each league. That means there were 27 finalists in the American League, and the Red Sox grabbed four of them. If you want the entire list of finalists, you can find that on the Rawlings Twitter feed. As for the Red Sox, here are their finalists.
P: Chris Sale
1B: Mitch Moreland
2B: Dustin Pedroia
RF: Mookie Betts
There is one very obvious name missing from that group, and we’ll get to that in a second. But first, let’s focus on those who got nominated. Chris Sale was everything we’d hoped for and more on the mound and for that he will be one of the top candidates for the American League Cy Young. However, he was also great in the field, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. He’ll battle division-mates Marcus Stroman and Alex Cobb for the award. Sale has never won a Gold Glove.
Mitch Moreland was brought here for his defense, and to be honest there were times I was actually a bit disappointed with his glove. That being said, it was also clear at other times that he is above-average at the position with both a solid arm for the spot and more important a lot of coverage for bad throws around the bag. He is pitted against a couple of potential Red Sox targets this winter in Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. A win would give Moreland two consecutive Gold Gloves.
Dustin Pedroia is probably a little more concerned about his health than this award right now, but he deserves consideration anyway. As I mentioned in this post about his surgery from earlier in the week, the Red Sox will feel his loss to start next year much more in the field than at the plate. Even with his down offensive year in 2017, he was incredibly value with his glove at second base. The other finalists here are Brian Dozier and Ian Kinsler. Pedroia has won this award four times before, with his last coming in 2014.
Finally, there is Mookie Betts, who one could argue is the best defensive player in all of baseball. Since Pedroia’s injury, there has been some talk among fans about moving Betts back to second base. All indication is that this is not an option, and that’s probably for the best. Betts is truly elite in right field, which is particularly valuable at Fenway Park. His range is unmatched, he makes tremendous reads off the bat and has an unreal arm. He really is the whole package. He is up against Aaron Judge and Kole Calhoun for this award. Betts took home the award last year while also winning the overall defensive player of the year award in 2016. He should be up for that once again in 2017.
Then, there’s the snub. Jackie Bradley wowed all of us with his defense in 2017 just as he has throughout his career. Despite that, he couldn’t even make the top three at center field. Those spots went to Lorenzo Cain, Kevin Pillar and Byron Buxton. Now, I would put those last two over Bradley in terms of overall defensive acumen, and probably Kevin Kiermaier as well. Presumably, the injury to Kiermaier hurt his case. Cain, however, was a bit of a surprise. That’s not to say he’s not also a great defensive player, because he is, but I’d still probably put Bradley above him. Of course, there is no bias in this argument. Either way, it’s a bummer that Bradley still hasn’t been recognized for his glove because he is a truly special defensive player. Unfortunately for him, the American League is loaded with elite defensive center fielders.