Gold Glove Finalists: First Base

Gold Glove
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 28: Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics plays first base during the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 28, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 1-0. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Gold Glove Finalists: First Base

Major League Baseball has announced the Gold Glove finalists at each position. There are some intriguing options to choose from at all positions in each league, as well as some slam dunk picks. The field has been narrowed down to three for each position, but it needs to be narrowed down to one in the end. This series will look at both the National League and American League for all positions. The next position to be looked at is first base.

First base isn’t usually a position known for defensive prowess. A lot of bad defenders are hidden there, and they usually make up for it with their bat. Even still, defense at every position is important. People often forget that first base is a position that is involved in more plays than most other positions on the diamond. It’s important to have someone decent at defending there, and the guys talked about here are some of the better ones.

American League

The American League side of the award boasts the reigning Gold Glove winner and two guys who haven’t won before. Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics finds himself nominated again while Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros and Justin Smoak of the Toronto Blue Jays are the first-timers.

Matt Olson makes up one part of a stellar Athletics infield. It was a tough year for AL first basemen but Matt Olson certainly made up for it. He had 13 defensive runs saved over at first base which led the majors. He tied for 7th in the majors with the number of balls he scooped out of the dirt or helped an errant throw with 23 of them. Olson also provided some highlight-reel plays like this one:

Yuli Gurriel, by statistics, might not be the flashiest for this award. He had an even 0 defensive runs saved on the year. He was tied for 4th in the AL in the number of scoops he had with 19. Even still, every once in a while he would come up with a diving grab like this:

Justin Smoak is an example of a slugger that is trying to hide defensive limitations. He was worth -3 defensive runs saved this past season, and might not have any business in this group. However, he is tied with Yuli Gurriel in the number of scoops he made. Most of his highlights are with the bat.

Prediction: Matt Olson should win this award for the second consecutive year.

National League

The NL boasts two guys who have won the award multiple times and one who replaced one of those guys. Paul Goldschmidt of the St Louis Cardinals, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs and Christian Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks make up the final 3.

Paul Goldschmidt has won the award 3 times previously. He is tied for 5th in the majors in scooping errant throws out, which is a great start to being considered a great defender at first. Goldschmidt is also tied for 5th in the majors in defensive runs saved at 4. He helps his infield out quite a bit, especially with plays like this:

Anthony Rizzo is a two-time winner of the award, and for good reason. This season, he has really done well helping his infielders out with 32 scoops. He rates with 3 defensive runs saved, but Rizzo is great at making the flashy plays:

Christian Walker is the newcomer to this scene but has earned his spot. He is second in the majors in defensive runs saved with 9. Walker only helped his team with 15 errant throws, but it’s possible that his team was very good at throwing on target. He provided us with some great defense to watch with plays like this one:

Prediction: This one is a close one, but based on the body of work Paul Goldschmidt should be bringing home the Gold Glove.

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