The 2022 Rawlings Gold Glove finalists have been named, and the Baltimore Orioles will have two representatives with an opportunity to win some hardware.
Those finalists are center fielder Cedric Mullins and third baseman Ramón Urías. We would like to congratulate the two on their accomplishments and selections, and we hope they can bring some hardware home to Birdland.
Now for the head-scratcher: Jorge Mateo. How is it that the flashiest and one of the most intriguing shortstops in the game doesn’t even end up as a finalist at the position?
Let’s look at the three shortstop finalists: Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Jeremy Peña. A good collection of players, don’t get me wrong.
But can we definitively say that they were better defensively than Mateo during the 2022 season? I’d have to wonder how this stacks up.
The first outlier, of course, would be fielding percentage. Now, Correa and Bogaerts led AL shortstops with a .983 fielding percentage, while Mateo was sixth with a .972 and Peña 10th with a .963.
All strong numbers, especially for the position and amount of opportunities. But look closer, because this is where the head scratching begins.
Mateo finished sixth in fielding percentage, but the thing that causes you to take a second look is opportunity itself.
Mateo had an amazing 615 chances, you’d think a pretty average amount. But looking at the numbers, the next closest was Corey Seager with 602 chances, with Bogaerts coming in with the third most at 581.
Why this is so polarizing is that Correa and Peña had over 100 less opportunities, and yet they are placed in the top three finalists for a defensive award. Granted, Bogaerts and Correa had a higher percentage of clean plays, but that also means they played in less games, having fewer chances to make a game-changing or game-saving play.
Even based off opportunities, Mateo would still have a higher fielding percentage if you bring his numbers down to Peña’s, while also having fewer errors to his name.
Mateo takes the lead in put outs with 181, which is second to Javier Báez. When you bring in Correa (157), Bogaerts (171) and Peña (146), once again, Mateo is ahead of these players.
Bogaerts is the second closest, trailing by 10, but Peña comes in with almost 25 less. But Peña played on the top team in the AL, so that means he gets more credit, right?
Let’s take outs above average (OAA) and compare those numbers. Mateo comes in leading all AL shortstops with 11 OAA, and his next closest competitor is Peña with seven. Bogaerts is third with five, and Correa comes in at number nine with a -3 OAA.
So, Mateo once again surpasses Peña, while also out-pacing Bogaerts and Correa, and it’s really not even close.
Mateo was third in innings played with 1257.1, only behind Seagar and Bo Bichette. Bogaerts ended up fifth, with Peña and Correa 10th and 11th, respectively.
In overall defensive rating, Mateo finished 12th overall in the majors. But in the AL for shortstops, his rating comes in at 14.5, a full 4.5 points ahead of Peña.
It seems like Mateo finishes ahead of Peña in most catagories. And, once again, he out-paced Correa (2.5) and Bogaerts (9.5).
The one area where Peña takes the cake is defensive runs saved (DRS). In this catagory, Peña was stellar, leading all shortstops with 15 DRS.
Mateo is third overall with 14, but Bogaerts (5) and Correa (3) pale in comparison.
It’s hard to argue with the stats. I could keep showing different figures that proves Mateo is a stronger defender than, at worst, one of the AL Gold Glove shortstop finalists.
It seems that politics are ruling the decision-making here.
Mateo isn’t from a fancy team, a.k.a. Houston or Boston, or is a big name like Carlos Correa. But his effect and wizardry on the field makes him one of the top defensive shortstops not only in the AL but in all of MLB.
Correa, Bogaerts and Peña all had fine seasons defensively. However, an award that is designed to focus on the best defensive players at their positions seems to have overlooked one of the finer defensive players at any position.
Jorge Mateo might not of been a finalist for the AL Gold Glove, but he is a Gold Glove shortstop to the Baltimore Orioles and Birdland fans who watched him with their own eyes all season.
So, we want to congratulate the finalists. However, the rightful winner for best defensive shortstop, that belongs to No. 3 in Baltimore.
What are your thoughts on the Gold Glove finalists? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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