Brian Dozier and Byron Buxton got rewarded for a great defensive season with each player’s first Rawlings Gold Glove award, MLB announced Tuesday.
Buxton was elite by every measure in center field, and he should be in line to win many more where that came from. Dozier has been a finalist before, but never won the award until this year.
Both men were part of a significant overall turnaround in terms of Twins’ team defense.
Buxton’s highlight real from 2017 would constitute a nice career compliation for many centerfielders. Just as impressively, Buxton would erase doubles in the gap with a sprinting catch that wouldn’t even make it to a highlight reel — he simply outran hits.
Dozier, for his part, has received questionable reviews for his defense. Advanced stats are split on his contributions with the glove, but one metric from Baseball Prospectus suggests he took a step forward this season. After finishing with negative defensive value last year, according to Fielding Runs Above Average, Dozier took a big step forward to 10.4 FRAA this season. (Dozier finished with -4 Defensive Runs Saved and a negative Ultimate Zone Rating.)
Despite a terrific defensive season at first base, Joe Mauer didn’t even make it as a finalist for American League first basemen. Eric Hosmer won his fourth award at the position, despite a down season defensively.
Buxton had already brought down a Fielding Bible Award, which isn’t as well-known as the Gold Glove. But over the past 10 years it has done a better job at rewarding the best defensive players, in my opinion.
Buxton held a spot in the Twins’ lineup even though he was hitting sub-.200 a couple months into the season. The primary reason he stuck around in the big leagues and in the lineup was because he was already showing a Gold-Glove capability in centerfield.
Buxton stated his case this year to be considered one of the most valuable fielders in the game. He led the world in Baseball Savant’s new stat Outs Above Average, which is a range-based metric that tries to measure how much better a fielder was at turning balls in the air into outs. Buxton’s 25 Outs Above Average was higher than Ender Inciarte (19), Mookei Betts (16) and Lorenzo Cain (15). Buxton finished second amoung outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs.com, where his 24 DRS was second only to Mookie Betts’ 31 DRS. And Buxton was again second among outfielders as measured by Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average, which also favored Betts over Buxton (27.2 FRAA to Buxton’s 23.8).