Your 2016 Giants: The Three Ami-Gold Glovers

As reported by various news outlets (Haft, Pavlovic, Schulman; I would include Baggarly, but since the SJ Mercury changed to no RSS feed, it's not easy to grab, as these three were), three Giants won Gold Gloves:  Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik.
  • Schulman reported:  "The winners were announced on ESPN on Tuesday afternoon. Posey, Crawford and Panik were selected in a vote of National League managers and coaches who could not choose their own players, in combination with a defensive index created by the Society for American Baseball Research."
  • As Pavlovic reported, this is the first time since 1994 that the Giants won 3 Gold Gloves in a season.  Bonds, Lewis, and Williams won it that year.   As Haft noted, this is the most since 4 Giants won gold gloves in 1993:  Bonds, Manwaring, Williams, Thompson.  And Schulman noted that the Giants and Rangers were the only teams to win three in 2016, and that 1993, 1994, and 2016 are the only seasons the Giants won 3 or more Gold Gloves.
  • This is Posey's and Panik's first Gold Gloves.  Posey's win broke Yadier Molina's eight year streak and he was the first Giants catcher to win it since Matheny won it in 2005.   Panik won in spite of only playing 127 games (and starting only 118, per Schulman), which suggests that, with health, he could put up a streak at 2B.  However, one of the guys he beat out, DJ LeMahieu, had won in 2014 and, per Schulman, is "widely viewed as the best defensive second baseman in the league."  He and Robby Thompson are the only Giants secondbasemen to win a Gold Glove (no Tito?).  
  • This was Crawford's second Gold Glove, which was made easier when his top competitor, Andrelton Simmons, was traded to the AL, but he got a new strong competitor in Addison Russell, who the A's stupidly traded away to the Cubs.  Pavlovic:  "This season he had to hold off Cubs rookie Addison Russell, who tied Crawford with 19 Defensive Runs Saved and led in SDI. Crawford had the support of opposing coaches and managers who have spent years watching him pull outs from thin air. "
  • Schulman noted:  "Crawford and Panik compose the first double-play combo to win in the NL since the Cardinals’ Edgar Renteria and Fernando ViƱa in 2002."
  • Pavlovic provided numbers that backed Posey:   "He led all catchers with 12 Defensive Runs Saved and was a runaway winner in the SABR Defensive Index, which makes up about a quarter of the vote. Posey finished with 15.2 SDI, far ahead of second-ranked Yasmani Grandal (5.9) and Molina (0.7)."  He noted that the Giants were disappointed that Posey did not win last season, but it has historically been hard to unseat the incumbent, especially someone like Molina, who won for so many years.  These numbers could no longer deny the breakthrough for Posey.  
  • Similarly for Panik:  "Panik got a boost from SDI, finishing at 8.5, two points ahead of the next best second baseman."
  • This adds to the trophy case for Posey and Crawford, and starts one for Panik:
    • Pavlovic:  "The award is the first major one for Panik and gave Crawford two to go along with his 2015 Silver Slugger Award. Crawford said he was happy to hear Posey added another item to an overflowing trophy case. “I think it was the one award that he hadn’t won,” he said. Through eight big league seasons, Posey has an MVP, three Silver Slugger Awards and a Rookie of the Year Award. Like Panik, he finally has that coveted Gold Glove, too. "
  • All three noted that they had always focused on defense, from their earliest days.  Which is not surprising given that they all three started out as SS, which is a position that most coaches drill into their heads to be good defensively.  

ogc thoughts

Looks like this could be the start of another Golden era, like we had in 1993-94.  Posey probably will win again next season, barring injury.  Panik most likely should win again, as he won it while only starting 118 games.  Then again, this SI article on the Gold Gloves noted that while he led in SDI, he didn't lead in any of the components other than TZ, where he tied (good article, covers Posey and Crawford as well;  but based on the tone, 2016 might be one and done, except for Posey).  Wong actually led more, so he must have come up horrible in other components.  Crawford looks like he's up against a tough young competitor in Russell, however, so we'll see there, but advanced defensive stats are notoriously up and down as well, so Russell will have to repeat to see whether he'll be Crawford's next thorn.

Perhaps Belt Will Get the Call in 2017?

I would also add that Brandon Belt has been considered to be a good defensive first baseman.  And he had 10 DRS per, 9 per Fangraphs, in 2016.   Rizzo, who won the award, had 11 DRS, Goldschmidt 4 DRS, and Myers, the last finalist, 7 DRS.   Plus, Belt killed it in SDI in 2015, so I'm not sure why he wasn't a finalist in 2016:  he had 11.1, Goldschmidt 9.4, A-Gon 8.3, Rizzo 4.2.  Per this SI article, Belt was very comparable but only played 117 games.

Oh, now I know, his 2016 SDI was not as good in 2016:  only 3.5, vs. Rizzo's 8.6 and Myers 6.6.  He was fifth and by a lot.  Wow, what a drop!  He must have fallen a lot in the other components.

Looking at another component for Belt, UZR, he was third with 5.8, behind Myers 8.8 and just ahead of Rizzo's 5.0.  So he had another good showing.  He must have really sucked, then, in the other three defensive analytics: Runs Effectively Defended (RED) from Chris Dial, Defensive Regression Analysis (DRA) from Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating (TZ) from Sean Smith.  I've never heard of any of these other metrics, though I'm aware of Chris Dial as a baseball analytics guy.  I'll have to research these other ones.

Though that SI article nicely noted the Sean Smith TZ connection, and there we have it, a reason why Belt's SDI fell like a rock.  He was -0 in that stat in 2016, this after two stellar years in 2014-15 in TZ.  And per DRA, available at the Baseball Gauge website (here's Belt), he had a really down year in 2016:  after steadying increasing DRA from the start of his career to 2015, he had his worse full year results ever in 2016.  So that's two different metrics where Belt got really crushed in the index, he will need to fix whatever problem this was, and return to his prior goodness.  Had he not suffered this decline with these two stats (both are derived from play-by-play data, so that's where he was hurt), he probably would have been among the leaders again.

In any case, maybe next year Belt will return to his 2015 goodness (I mean really, he led by a lot in 2015, 11.1 vs. 9.4) with improvement particularly in his play-by-play (not sure how those metrics work; just ordered Humphrey's book) and help to bring at least three Gold Gloves to the Giants in 2017.

Other SDI rankings
  • Bumgarner 9th with 1.4
  • Cueto 14th with 0.7
  • Samardzija was actually negative!  Moore just squeaked above 0 in AL.
  • Duffy was actually third with 6.3 at 3B, with full season probably would have challenged for lead with Arenado.
  • OMG, Adam Duvall actually led with 9.1 in LF.  Looks like Giants made a mistake in letting him go, both offensively and defensively.  A rare miss in the Sabean era, but it seems like they are missing more lately:  Biagini, Duvall, Otero, among others.   Though part of me wonders if Hamilton being in CF helped Duvall out by taking over some of his area of coverage.  
  • Span was next to last with -9.2; surprisingly, McCutchen was last with -15.5.   We need a better defensive CF, perhaps the Giants could trade Span given that Nunez could take over leadoff.   Hernandez could be good defensively there (he had nice time with SF, but SSS, but horrible time in CF with Miami in 2012), but obviously we don't know about his offense, though, again, SSS, but he had nice time with us.  Span's down year hurts his value, though.  However, part of his down was a bad BABIP year, down 27 points from last season and 25 points from his career.  However, at 33 YO next season, and recovered from hip surgery that happened last off-season, could be reasons why this continues.  
  • Pence was 9th out of 13 with -1.0.   As much as fans love him, defensive stats have been "meh" about him, particularly advanced stats.