Friday, October 25, 2013

Fool's Gold For Juan Lagares

Earlier today, Rawlings announced their nominees for this year's Gold Glove Awards at each position.  Two Mets were nominated for the prestigious defensive excellence award.  Two-time winner David Wright will compete with Colorado's Nolan Arenado and Los Angeles' Juan Uribe for the prize at third base, while Eric Young, Jr. will go up against fellow left field nominees Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) and Starling Marte (Pittsburgh).

But perhaps the Mets' best defensive player was mysteriously left off the list of nominees.  Hey, Rawlings!  Where in the world is Juan Lagares?

One of these Mets outfielders was nominated for a Gold Glove Award.  It's not the one you think.

The three finalists for the Gold Glove in center field are Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Denard Span of the Washington Nationals - all worthy candidates.  But Juan Lagares may have the better defensive numbers, especially when considering the sabermetric stats, which are now part of the voting process.

Juan Lagares was second in the league behind Gomez with 26 defensive runs saved (DRS).  Meanwhile, McCutchen and Span combined to save just ten runs defensively.  (A.J. Pollock saved 15 runs for the Diamondbacks in center field and he was also snubbed as a nominee.)

Another stat used to measure a player's defensive value is UZR (ultimate zone rating).  Once again, Gomez led the league in that category with a 24.4 UZR, just slightly ahead of Lagares, who posted a 21.5 UZR.  And yup, McCutchen and Span together couldn't match what Lagares produced, as their UZR added up to 17.1.

Have you ever heard of ARM?  That's another sabermetric stat which measures the amount of runs above average an outfielder saves with his arm by preventing the advancement of base runners.  (This factors into the calculation of UZR.)  In common English, it shows how much opposing runners are afraid of running on an outfielder's arm.  Juan Lagares had a 12.3 ARM.  The three center field Gold Glove nominees (Gomez, McCutchen, Span) combined for a 9.0 ARM.

What else did Juan Lagares lead the league in?  Let's see.  There was Range Factor/9Inn, which measures putouts and assists per nine innings.  Lagares led the league with a 2.98 Range Factor/9Inn as a centerfielder.  He also led all outfielders, regardless of position, in that category.  There was also that handy, dandy assists thing.  Lagares led all centerfielders with 14 outfield assists, and added another one as a rightfielder.  His 15 total assists set a new Mets rookie record.

Not bad for a player who didn't become the team's regular centerfielder until the Rick Ankiel experiment was deemed a failure in early June.

I don't disagree that Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen and Denard Span are all excellent defensive players.  But how can a list of the top three centerfielders in the National League in 2013 not include Juan Lagares?  The kid will win a Gold Glove or ten before his career is over.  He should have been considered for his first this year.

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