No disrespect to Jason Heyward, but Yasiel Puig deserved the Gold Glove for NL right-fielders this year. No question about that. It is frustrating sometimes with how biased the Gold Glove selections can be. Many times in the past they have selected players simply because those players have a history of winning Gold Gloves or because they have that name/brand recognition.
Interestingly enough, I’d imagine more people have name/brand recognition with Puig than Heyward to the MLB, but that is a story for another day.
So, aside from the eye test, why does Puig deserve the Gold Glove more? Mookie Betts certainly was the right choice by the metrics for the AL because he was leaps and bounds better than the rest. But why not Puig? Well for starters he tied Heyward for most defensive runs saved among right-fielders at 18. This is also amazingly tied for 6th overall in all position players in all leagues.
Next, he only committed one error on the year in RF. Considering his prior reputation as a “lazy and bad defensive player” this is outstanding improvement. Additionally, Puig (12.1, 15.5) tops Heyward (6.4, 10.3) in UZR and UZR/150 by a decent margin. Lastly, FanGraphs rates his range and arm as the best in right field.
The reason he only had four outfield assists this year is because the league has seen enough of his cannon to know that you do not run on Puig’s arm at all! It’s a bad idea.
The only possible explanation is that Heyward, according to Inside Edge fielding metrics, made a higher percentage of the insanely difficult plays (1-10% and 10-40% of making the play) than Puig. But in the end, that difference is only percentages. Heyward made 3 out of 15 plays at 1-10% chances, whereas Puig made 2 out of 15 on 1-10%. Heyward made 4 out of 5 on the 10-40% plays and Puig made 8 out of 14 plays at 10-40%. The only argument one could have for Heyward is that he has higher percentages. But ultimately, digging deeper into the numbers, you could actually still make an argument for Puig based on those numbers overall.
Ultimately, Puig still won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award for NL right-fielders, which was well-deserved. But he definitely was robbed of more defensive hardware by not receiving the Gold Glove award.
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