The Rays had the most wins in baseball but no gold glove wins, with the 3B award going to Matt Chapman (no surprise), the LF award going to Andrew Benintendi (frustrating but understandable), and the CF award to Michael A. Taylor (mild surprise).
Kevin Kiermaier is the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and of his generation of athletes to play the outfield. In previous season he did not win, one could point to injuries limiting playing time below the gold glove threshold, but that was not the case this season, which makes KK’s snub a disappointment.
Here is a quick comparison on the results from 2021:
- Taylor — 1186.0 Inn, 19 DRS, 15 OAA
- Kiermaier — 894.2 Inn, 13 DRS, 12 OAA
On a per inning basis, Taylor comes out ahead in Defensive Runs Saved by a hair, but by that same logic the Statcast derived Outs Above Average favors Kiermaier on a per inning basis. Depending on which system you favor might impact your assessment of how this voting should have gone.
As for the left field situation, Benintendi and Arozarena put up identical results in left in terms of DRS (7), but with the added complication that Arozarena was not in left field for a full season, having also played in center and right. In fact Benintendi had nearly double the innings played in LF (1116.0 Inn, 1 OAA) as Arozarena (612.1 Inn, 2 OAA). Perhaps that longevity impacted the vote tally.
In any case, we are arguing the merits of Arozarena deserving a gold glove when he had the fourth strongest outfield performance on the team in 2021. Gold Glove awards have always been screwy — remember Derek Jeter? — but one would hope that years of advancements in evaluation methods for fielding would have helped the cause.