For much of the 2020 season, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and several players, including Kyle Seager, the last Mariner to win the award, talked about the stellar defense of first baseman Evan White and shortstop J.P. Crawford. They said one or both would win a Gold Glove award some day.
Both players took a first step toward winning that first Gold Glove award by being named a finalist Thursday afternoon. Rawlings, the company that sponsors the annual awards for the best defensive player at each position in each league, announced the finalists on Twitter.
Crawford joins Houston’s Carlos Correa and Detroit’s Niko Goodrum as finalists at shortstop. The honor was born out of countless hours of hard work and the willingness to accept the coaching of infield coach Perry Hill.
When the Mariners acquired Crawford before the 2019 season, they knew that, despite his physical gifts, he was flawed fundamentally. They brought in Hill to correct footwork issues that led to inconsistent results on routine ground balls and throws to first base. The process started two months before the 2019 spring training and continued through this season, even as Hill was limited to remote coaching duties because of the pandemic.
Crawford finished the 2020 season ranked second in the American League in defensive runs saved with six. Correa led the AL with eight defensive runs saved. Crawford lead AL shortstops with 62 out-of-zone plays and his 4.9 defensive runs above average was second to Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. He had a 2.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR), which also ranked second to Lindor (5.8).
Crawford also ranked in the following categories among American League shortstops: assists (2nd, 145), putouts (3rd, 73), outs above average (3rd, four) and runs prevented (T-3rd, three). He is the Mariners’ best defensive shortstop since Brendan Ryan. The only Mariners shortstop to earn a Gold Glove award is Omar Vizquel (1993).
White’s defensive exploits became almost legendary before he reached the big leagues. They started while he was a first baseman at the University of Kentucky, where multiple amateur scouts said he could have been an elite defensive third baseman and solid shortstop if threw right-handed. White was such a good runner and so instinctive that some teams projected him as an outfielder.
But the Mariners never considered him for any other position other than first base, where he’s evoked comparisons to top fielding first basemen like John Olerud, J.T. Snow, Mark Grace and Keith Hernandez.
White joins Oakland’s Matt Olson and Houston’s Yuli Gurriel as finalists. He led American League first basemen in defensive runs saved (DRS) with seven, ranking ahead of Olson, the White Sox’s José Abreu and Cleveland’s Carlos Santana, who all had five.
White also led AL first basemen with seven “scoops” — a metric that measures outs saved from wayward throws — ahead of Santana (six). He led AL first basemen with 11 out-of-zone plays, ranking ahead of Olson (10) and Gurriel (10).
According to FanGraphs, his 2.2 UZR was second best among AL first basemen, trailing only Olson (2.5). All three finalists had .998 fielding percentages that were decided by percentage points. They all committed just one error. White ended the season with 49 consecutive games without an error, successfully converting each of his 363 total chances (333 putouts, 30 assists) over that span. According to Baseball Savant, he tied for the most runs prevented (two) among AL first basemen with Abreu and Olson, while ranking tied for second in outs above average with two, one behind Olson.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be announced Nov. 3 on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
From Rawlings: “Due to the compressed 2020 season, the Award qualifications have been amended to rely solely on the SABR Defensive Index, which draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. SDI utilizes MLBAM’s Statcast, Sports Information Solutions data, and STATS, LLC data as well as traditional statistics with advanced analysis. For 2020 Award consideration, pitchers must have pitched at least 50 innings, catchers must have played in at least 29 games and infielders/outfielders must have completed at least 265 defensive innings. Each player qualifies at the position he has played at most (SDI is only for play at qualified position).”
Forty-player roster cleanup
In preparation for the upcoming deadlines after the World Series ends, specifically reinstating players on the 60-day injured list, the Mariners have begun cleaning up their 40-player roster.
On Wednesday, the Mariners lost young reliever Art Warren on a waivers claim to the Rangers. They tried getting Warren through waivers in hopes of outrighting him to Tacoma and keeping him in the organization.
The right-hander did not pitch for the Mariners in 2020, despite two call-ups. He pitched at the alternate training site in Tacoma. Sources indicated decreased velocity and durability concerns as reasons the Mariners were willing to put Warren on waivers.
On Thursday, the team announced that three more pitchers had cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma: right-handers Carl Edwards Jr., Matt Magill and lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. All three ended the season on the 60-day injured list. Because of their service time accrued, all three players refused the outright assignments and opted for free agency.
The Mariners have 33 players. on their roster.
Magill, who turns 31 on Nov. 10, underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right shoulder, performed by Dr. Neal ElAtrtrache, on Sept. 15 in Los Angeles. Magill dealt with issues back in spring training and never looked right in the truncated 2020 season. He made 11 appearances, posting a 6.10 ERA.
Cortes, 25, went 0-1 with a 15.26 ERA with six walks and eight strikeouts in five appearances. He went on the injured list with an elbow impingement on Aug. 15 and didn’t pitch again.
Edwards, 29, was solid when healthy, allowing one run in five appearances. He struck out 6 and walked one in 4 2/3 innings. But a forearm strain forced him to the 10-day inured list on Aug. 10. He was moved to the 60-day on Aug. 27.
2020 Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists:
- Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins
- Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels
- Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians
- Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox
- James McCann, Chicago White Sox
- Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians
- Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
- Evan White, Seattle Mariners
- Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros
- Cesar Hernandez, Cleveland Indians
- Danny Mendick, Chicago White Sox
- Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers
- Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals
- Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
- Gio Urshela, New York Yankees
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers
- Niko Goodrum, Detroit Tigers
- J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners
- Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
- Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
- Kyle Tucker Houston Astros
- Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics
- Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
- Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
- Clint Frazier, New York Yankees
- Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
- Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles
- Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
- Alec Mills, Chicago Cubs
- Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
- Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
- Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
- Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
- Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
- Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
- Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs
- Kolten Wong St. Louis Cardinals
- Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
- Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins
- Manny Machado San Diego Padres
- Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins
- Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
- Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
- Shogo Akiyama, Cincinnati Reds
- David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
- Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
- Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Trent Grisham, San Diego Padres
- Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
- Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs
- Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Kole Calhoun, Arizona Diamondbacks