Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Freddie Freeman is one of three Los Angeles Dodgers named as a finalist for a 2023 Gold Glove Award, being one of the most consistent players in all of baseball.
Freeman previously won a Gold Glove in 2018 as a member of the Atlanta Braves, when he and Anthony Rizzo shared the award. It was only the fourth tie in Gold Glove Award voting history.
In his age-33 season, Freeman doesn’t grade out particularly well in cumulative defensive metrics. As a whole, advanced metrics for defensive play aren’t as clear-cut because of the number of factors that go into good defense.
Among qualified first basemen, Freeman finished out his 2023 campaign with a 3.3 ultimate zone rating per 150 innings (UZR/150), and graded out in the 84th percentile in outs above average (OAA).
The most surprising stat lies with his -9 defensive runs saved (DRS), which ranked as the worst among qualifiers at the position. Freeman’s lengthy frame and ability to pick difficult throws appears to the eye that he outplays that negative stat, which is why non-Statcast metrics have more holes in them than Statcast tracking.
To determine the winners, the 30 MLB managers and up to six coaches from each team vote from a pool of players in their league, excluding players from their own team. These votes comprise 75% of the selection total, with the SABR Defensive Index counting for the other 25%.
Gold Glove Award winners will be unveiled on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” on Sunday, November 5, at 4:30 p.m. PT.
How Freddie Freeman compares
Freeman is going up against Carlos Santana (Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers) and 2022 Rawlings Gold Glove winner Christian Walker (Arizona Diamondbacks).
Santana led the position with 11 DRS, edging out Walker, and Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves, who finished with eight DRS. The 37-year-old has never won a Gold Gove Award, but put up a strong case, grading out in the 77th percentile in OAA.
Santana’s -1.2 UZR/150 finished in the lower portion of qualifiers, but his defense was heavily relied upon with the Brewers. He played the least number of innings at the position, while committing just eight errors in
Walker, had another stellar season defensively. The 32-year-old slotted behind Freeman in innings with 1309.1, while committing just two errors.
He led all first basemen with 12 OAA, putting him in the 97th percentile. He only trailed Freeman in UZR/150 with 2.6, which puts him on track to be the front-runner for a back-to-back shot at a Gold Glove.
Should Freddie Freeman win NL Gold Glove at first base?
To Freeman’s credit, he committed just one error in his 1,260 chances, which places him among the most reliable in MLB in fielding his position. But Walker held his own, having by far the most stable and in terms of OAA, UZR/150 and DRS, he’s the clear winner for the 2023 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
The field isn’t as crowded and parodied as the left-field position, and Walker edges out Freeman and Santana in the hefty metrics that hold the most weight.
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