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Making the cases for 2018 AL Gold Glove awards

Who has done the best job defensively at their respective positions this season?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season is over, and that means the debates for some of Major League Baseball’s prestigious regular-season awards — the Most Valuable Player, the Cy Young, the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger, and the Manager of the Year — are happening right now.

In this series, we are going to make cases for those players and managers who are in the running for these awards to come away with the hardware in their respective leagues. We will continue our series by examining the candidates for American League Gold Glove awards.

*NOTE: All sabermetric stats are according to FanGraphs.com.

Catcher

  1. Martin Maldonado, Los Angeles Angels/Houston AstrosMaldonado is out to win his second straight Gold Glove award this year after having another terrific season behind the plate while splitting this season with the Angels and Astros. The 32-year-old led the majors in caught stealing by throwing out 49 percent of runners and anchored the top pitching staff in the game in Houston for the last half of the season. Maldonado will look to become the 27th catcher in MLB history to win multiple Gold Glove honors.
  2. Yan Gomes, Cleveland IndiansGomes is looking to win his first Gold Glove award after being named a finalist for the second year in a row. The 30-year-old catcher threw out 27 percent of the runners who tried to steal on him and the Tribe’s pitchers posted a 3.83 ERA with him behind the plate. Gomes will try to join Sandy Alomar Jr. (1990) as the only Indians’ catchers to win a Gold Glove award.
  3. Salvador Perez, Kansas City RoyalsPerez is making his presence here once again, as he is going to try to win his fifth Gold Glove award after winning four in a row from 2013-16. The 28-year-old posted a 1.5 defensive WAR and did not commit an error behind home plate, making him only the seventh catcher since 1913 to not commit one while making at least 96 starts. If he wins No. 5, Perez will join Ivan Rodriguez (13-time winner), Jonny Bench (10-time winner), Yadier Molina (eight-time winner), Bob Boone (seven-time winner), Jim Sundberg (six-time winner) and Bill Freehan (five-time winner) as the only catchers in MLB history to win five or more Gold Glove awards.

First Base

  1. Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics — If there is one player who might win his respective award hands down, it may be Olson after the type of season he had defensively for the A’s in his second full year in the bigs. Plating in all 162 games, the 24-year-old posted an MLB-best 11.6 UZR, with the next highest rating being a 7.8, and led the bigs in RZR with an .854 average. Olson will try to become the Athletics’ third first baseman to win a Gold Glove along with Vic Power (1958) and Mark McGwire (1990).
  2. Mitch Moreland, Boston Red SoxMoreland is looking to claim his second Gold Glove in three years and his first as a Red Sox after having another quality season in the field. The 33-year-old had a 3.0 UZR and only made two errors in 116 games. Moreland will try to become the 25th first baseman in MLB history to win multiple Gold Glove awards.
  3. Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue JaysSmoak showed that he is capable of coming away with his first Gold Glove of his career. The 31-year-old made only one error this year, which is the best in the majors, recorded 1,036 putouts and helped turn 99 double plays. Smoak will not only be trying to win his first Gold Glove award, but he will also try to become the first Toronto first baseman to come home with the honor.

Second Base

  1. Ian Kinsler, Los Angeles Angels/Boston Red Sox — Kinsler is eyeing his second Gold Glove in three seasons and his first as a Red Sox after having his best season in the field. The 36-year-old led all AL second basemen in UZR with a 9.6 and defensive runs above average (DEF) with 11.6, and tied for first in defensive runs saved (DRS) at plus-10. Kinsler will try to become the 27th second baseman in MLB history to win multiple Gold Glove awards in a career.
  2. Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics — Lowrie is a first-time Gold Glove finalist and may earn the award this year after helping transform the worst defense in baseball. The 34-year-old led all AL second basemen in fielding percentage (.993) and RZR (.845), and was tied in assists (336). Not only will Lowrie try to win his first Gold Glove, but will also look to become Oakland’s first winner at second base.
  3. Rougned Odor, Texas RangersOdor is out to claim his first Gold Glove after dramatically improving his defense to become a finalist this year. The 24-year-old finished tied for first with Kinsler among all AL second basemen in DRS at plus-10 after being minus-24 over his previous four seasons in Texas. Odor will also be trying to win his franchise’s first second baseman to win a Gold Glove.

Third Base

  1. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics — Chapman is in contention for his first Gold Glove after playing a huge part in revamping the Athletics’ defense this year. The 25-year-old led all MLB third basemen in DRS (plus-29), UZR (10.9), DEF (13.1) and SABR fielding index (19.5). Chapman will try to join six-time Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez (2001-06) as the only A’s third basemen to win a Gold Glove.
  2. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians — While his bat did most of the talking this year, Ramirez is in the running for his first Gold Glove after having a great season flashing the leather. The 26-year-old ranked third among AL third basemen in DRS (plus-3) and RZR (.724). Ramírez will look to join Travis Fryman (2000) as the Indians’ only third basemen to win a Gold Glove.
  3. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros — While his analytical measures are not where Chapman and Ramírez are, Bregman is in the mix for a Gold Glove after making a ton of exciting plays at the hot corner. Naturally a shortstop, the 24-year-old posted a .962 fielding percentage with 245 assists, while committing just 13 errors in 342 total chances. Bregman hopes to join five-time winner Doug Rader (1970-74) as the only Astros’ third basemen to win a Gold a Glove.

Shortstop

  1. Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels — Simmons is looking to secure his second straight Gold Glove honor and fourth one of his career after showing once again that he is one of the best in the big leagues at his position. The 29-year-old led or tied for first among all MLB shortstops in DRS (plus-21), UZR (19.7) and DEF (26.2). Simmons will try to become only the 10th shortstop in MLB history to win four Gold Gloves in a career.
  2. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics — Semien showed dramatic improvement in his field this year and is hoping a first Gold Glove award will be the reward for that. The 28-year-old led all MLB shortstops in RZR at .869 and ranked third in the AL in DRS, UZR and DEF. Semien will try to join Alfred Griffin (1985) as the Athletics’ only shortstops to win a Gold Glove.
  3. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians — While he had another incredible offensive season for the Tribe, Lindor is looking to win his second Gold Glove award in three seasons after having an excellent year in the field. The 24-year-old ranked second among all MLB shortstops in UZR (14.1) and DEF (21.2). Lindor will look to become the 26th shortstop in MLB history to win multiple Gold Glove awards in a career.

Left Field

  1. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals — A five-time Gold Glove winner, Gordon is looking like a lock to win his sixth one after having a superb season in left field for the Royals. The 34-year-old led all MLB left fielders in DRS (plus-18), UZR (13.1), RZR (.968) and DEF (7.5). A sixth Gold Glove honor will make Gordon only the 21st outfielder in MLB history to win six or more Gold Glove awards.
  2. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees — The beloved Yankee will be looking to win his second Gold Glove in three seasons after having another quality season in the outfield. The 35-year-old ranked second among all AL left fielders in DRS (plus-8), UZR (6.0), and DEF (1.4). Gardner will look to join four-time winners Dave Winfield and Bernie Williams as the Yankees’ only outfielders to win multiple Gold Glove awards.
  3. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox — Benintendi is up for his first Gold Glove after being a key part to the Red Sox’s strong outfield defense. The 24-year-old ranked third among AL left fielders in UZR (5.2) and fourth in DRS (plus-4). Benintendi will try to become the 11th Red Sox outfielder to win a Gold Glove.

Center Field

  1. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox — Bradley is looking to bring home his first Gold Glove after standing out as one of the game’s best defenders while patrolling center field. The 28-year-old led all AL center fielders in UZR (7.4) and DEF (9.3). Like his teammate Benintendi, Bradley will try to become the 11th Red Sox outfielder to win a Gold Glove.
  2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels — Though he has won a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award in his career, Trout has never earned a Gold Glove award, but he hopes to add this award to his collection after having a quality season in center. The 27-year-old led all AL center fielders in DRS at plus-8 and ranked second in UZR (4.0) and DEF (5.8). Trout will try to become the Angels’ eighth outfielder to win a Gold Glove.
  3. Adam Engel, Chicago White Sox — With the White Sox in a middle of a rebuild, Engel has provided them stability in center field and is now in the mix for his first Gold Glove. The 26-year-old has the highest RZR among the finalists here at .938 and finished second among AL center fielders in DRS at plus-1. Engel will try to become the fifth different White Sox outfielder to win a Gold Glove.

Right Field

  1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox — The team with the best record in baseball this year was made possible because of Betts being arguably the best player in the AL, and a big part of his success was in the field. The 26-year-old led all MLB right fielders in DRS (plus-20), UZR (15.3), RZR (.959) and DEF (10.1). Betts will look to win his third consecutive Gold Glove for the Red Sox.
  2. Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels — Calhoun will try to capture his second Gold Glove after having another nice season in right field. The 31-year-old ranked second among AL right fielders in UZR (2.7) and RZR (.931). Calhoun will try to become the sixth Angels outfielder to win multiple Gold Glove awards.
  3. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees — Despite missing about seven weeks of the season due to a broken wrist, Judge is in contention for his first Gold Glove. The 26-year-old posted a DRS of plus-14, a RZR of .953, a UZR of 14.2 and a DEF of 4.3, all of which would have put him second in the AL if he had met the qualified innings. Judge will try to become the ninth Yankees outfielder to win a Gold Glove.

Pitcher

  1. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros — Keuchel is going for his fourth Gold Glove award after having another strong season on the field. The 30-year-old led all AL pitchers in total chances (42) and ranked second in assists (27) while not making an error. Keuchel will try to become the 12th pitcher in MLB history to win four or more Gold Gloves.
  2. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians — Kluber is eyeing his first Gold Glove as an Indian. The 32-year-old did not make an error in 33 starts, recorded 19 putouts and had 13 assists in 32 total chances. Kluber will not only try to win his first Gold Glove, but also become the Indians’ first pitcher to claim the award.
  3. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees — Tanaka will try to take home his first Gold Glove after performing well in the field this year. The 30-year-old committed just one error this season in 39 opportunities and helped turn a career-high four double plays. Tanaka will try to become only the fourth Yankees pitcher to win a Gold Glove.