On Sunday, Major League Baseball and Rawlings announced the winners of the 2018 Gold Glove Award at every position in each league. Andrelton Simmons, who won the award for American League shortstops, was the Angels’ lone recipient.
Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout finished in the top three of AL right fielders and center fielders, respectively. Ian Kinsler, who began the year with the Angels but finished it with the Red Sox, won the award for AL second basemen while catcher Martin Maldonado, who began the year with the Angels but finished it with the Astros, was a finalist but did not win.
It was quite the turnaround for Trout in 2018, as he followed through on his promise to improve his defense. Last season, Trout finished 44th among outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved (-6) and 62nd in Outs Above Average (-3). This season, he placed 12th in DRS (8) and 16th in OAA (8).
Calhoun, who won a Gold Glove in 2015, had another stellar season in the field, accumulating 7 DRS and regularly making plays like this:
For Simmons, who made his major-league debut in 2012, this is his second consecutive Gold Glove Award and the fourth of his career. In 2018, he compiled the second-most DRS among all position players, with 21, and, at 19.7, led baseball in Ultimate Zone Rating.
To properly put Simmons’ historically excellent defensive capabilities into context, we can look at the all-time leaderboard for Defensive Runs Saved, a fielding statistic that was introduced in 2003.
The cumulative nature of DRS means that the players who have had more playing time have an advantage over those who have had less. Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols were already in the majors when DRS started being recorded, and Yadier Molina entered the league a year after it’s debut.
Thus, as evidenced by the disparity in innings played, Simmons effectively gave those players, whose careers continued into 2018, an eight-to-nine-year head start, and he still managed to catch up to them.
The point is that Simmons is the best-fielding player of his generation, and winning the Gold Glove Award seems like it should be nothing more than a formality at this point, even if that isn’t always the way it works out. For what it’s worth, Simmons just won his sixth consecutive Fielding Bible Award, which is a Gold Glove-like accolade handed out by Baseball Info Solutions, the company that tracks DRS.
Just to appreciate Simmons’ greatness a little more, here are some of his best plays of the year, one from each month of the season.
From April 19:
From May 30:
From June 2:
From July 1:
From August 25:
From September 10:
Maybe every day should be Andrelton Simmons Appreciation Day.
Featured image via Keith Allison/Flickr.