While the season might not have ended the way they wanted, there are plenty of positives to take away from the Cleveland Guardians’ 2022 season. As a whole, the Guardians had five players nominated for Gold Gloves, tied for the most in the American League. These nominations included pitcher Shane Bieber, second baseman Andrés Giménez, third baseman Jose Ramirez, left fielder Steven Kwan and center fielder Myles Straw.
Of those five nominees, a total of four ended up bringing home the hardware – the first time that has ever happened in franchise history. And as a team, the Guardians ranked third in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with 79, behind only the Dodgers and the Yankees.
Let’s take a look at the defensive seasons put together by all of the winners.
Bieber ranks fourth in the American League in DRS among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. Now, Gold Gloves are always interesting to give out to pitchers because realistically, how much fielding do pitchers actually do? Bieber ranks fourth among these pitchers with only a 3 DRS.
While this number might not be all that impressive, what is impressive is the number of innings that Bieber threw while still maintaining his defense. Bieber threw a total of 200 innings, and the next three highest DRS leaders threw 100.2, 102 and 137 innings. Having only one less DRS while throwing 63 more innings seems to be more than enough to confidently award Shane Bieber with his first Gold Glove.
Giménez broke onto the scene in a big way with the Guardians this season. He was an All-Star and has now added his first Gold Glove to go along with it. With the nomination, Giménez joined star-studded defensive company that included Marcus Semien and Jonathan Schoop.
In terms of the eight qualified second basemen, Giménez leads the pack in DRS with a total of 16, three higher than Semien. Outs Above Average is another stat that measures range in fielders and how many outs they produce based on their range. This stat was only recently applied to infielders in 2020, and this year, Giménez ranked second in OAA with 12 behind Schoop’s 27.
Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is another defensive stat that is similar to DRS but takes into account arm strength and double-play ability. Giménez ranks first in this category at 6.5 with Schoop in second place at 4.4. Overall, it is clear to see that being towards the top in multiple categories in regards to second base defense was enough to push him over the edge and give him the Gold Glove.
Steven Kwan was the only left-field AL nominee who played on the same team the entire year (the others included Brandon Marsh and Andrew Benintendi). Kwan was far and away the best left fielder in the American League – as a rookie. Not only did he take the league by storm with his amazing plate discipline, but his defense was just as elite.
Kwan finished the year with 21 Defensive Runs Saved compared to Benintendi’s two, as well as 10 Outs Above Average to Benintendi’s zero. It was clear to see that Kwan was a major reason why the Guardians had the success they did and they have their left fielder of the future for years to come.
Center field is a premium position where defense matters arguably the most, aside from probably shortstop and first base. For the Cleveland Guardians to have two of the best outfielders in the American League on their team, along with a few veteran pieces, it shows real promise for the future of the team.
Straw was second in DRS among qualified center fielders with 17 (only two behind Michael Taylor), but first in UZR with 13.2 and first in OAA with 13. FanGraphs gives players a DEF stat that shows how many runs they prevent as well as accounting for positional adjustments. Among center fielders, Straw’s DEF rating is 16.3 this season with the next highest being 5.1. The numbers don’t lie – they clearly show that Straw was deserving of this Gold Glove.