The Gold Glove winners will be announced next week and the Cleveland Indians have two finalists. Roberto Perez should be a shoe in to win the award, or else the system is beyond flawed.
Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez was thrust into the full-time starting catcher role for the team after a preseason trade that sent Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals. That trade made Perez, who started 55 games in 2018 as a catching platoon, to play in 119 games as the main starter in 2019.
Perez will get credit for his surprising offense. His batting average jumped from a sub .200 clip in 2018 to a mark of .239. Most notably though his home run total went from two to 24. Factor in injuries to Jose Ramirez, Tyler Naquin, and Francisco Lindor, and that offense would have been enough to call Perez an important piece.
Yet on November 3, Perez deserves to get some recognition nationally for what he really did to help the Indians. His defense was the best in baseball for a backstop. Perez has always been a solid in-game pitch caller, but for stats that you can measure, Perez lead all catchers in several.
According to Baseball-Reference, Perez leads all MLB players in defensive WAR at 2.6. Perez had three errors all season, and threw out 41% of base runners.
Errors are a non-analytical statistic that has been used for the majority of baseball history that defines mistakes at each position. This is where baseball can make a mistake, and pass on giving Perez the Gold Glove. One of the other finalists at catcher is Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who had one error all season.
Gold Gloves, like many baseball awards, are awarded based on votes from coaches and players, as well as a 25% portion that comes from analytics from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The analytics will show that Perez is a Gold Glove winner. Yet, human nature will possibly allow Vazquez to sneak in with a win.
Vazquez had a very good season for the Boston Red Sox. That’s the key, he plays in Boston, which is a larger market. More national attention, and by winning the award, he would represent a marketable star in a major market. That is where it ends for Vazquez defeating Perez for the award.
According to another analytics group, FanGraphs, the top fielders among AL catchers were Perez (12.1) followed by Vazquez (10.3). What Perez perhaps loses looking at the error stat, he more than makes up for in clutch defensive moments. The passed balls he prevented late in games this year were immeasurable to his ability to help Indians grab wins late.
Regardless of who wins, it would be the first Gold Glove win for either Perez or Vazquez. Vazquez had a good defensive season, but factoring in everything, including the performance by both pitching staffs, and Perez gets the edge in 2019.
The third finalist for Gold Glove is also a first timer. That is Blue Jays catcher Danny Jensen. Jensen is a finalist because of his defensive prowess, but on a team with a bottom half ERA, Jensen isn’t looking like a true contender this season given how strong the cases are for Perez and Vazquez.
The gold glove isn’t a 100% media voted award like others, and there are close calls in many races. Yet for American League catcher there is only one option this year, and it’s Roberto Perez. Time to get his Gold Glove fitted. On November 3 Perez gets gold, or we may riot.