After leading all teams in Gold Glove finalists, just two Cubs won the awards.
Shortstop Javier Báez and first baseman Anthony Rizzo were named 2020 Gold Glovers, ESPN’s Baseball Tonight show unveiled Tuesday. Two is tied for the most Gold Gloves won by Cubs in a season, most recently achieved by Rizzo and Jason Heyward in 2016.
“Pitching and defense has been kind of our thing this year,” Cubs manager David Ross said in September, “since our offense hasn’t gotten going.”
Now, two Cubs have the hardware to show for it.
This year, Rawlings amended the Gold Glove qualifications to be based solely on the SABR Defensive Index, due to the shortened season. The SDI combines various defensive metrics into one rating.
This unprecedented year, Báez won the first Gold Glove of his career.
Báez, famous for making seemingly impossible plays in the infield, was an All-Star the last two years and finished second in MVP voting in 2018. But he lost the Gold Glove to Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu at second base that year, and to Arizona’s Nick Ahmed at shortstop the next season.
This year, Báez becomes the first Cub shortstop in 50 years to win a Gold Glove. Ernie Banks (1960) and Don Kessinger (1969, 70) were the only other Cubs shortstops to win the award.
“It’s a different feeling when you have that commitment with (one) position,” Báez said on ESPN. “But obviously I’m trying to get better every day, trying to keep working and trying to get the ball every time it’s hit.”
Rizzo took home the fourth Gold Glove of his career and third in a row. He finished second in putouts among NL first basemen (418), behind only the Braves’ Freddie Freeman (427), and committed just one error.
He too spoke during the awards show via video call, with his three previous Gold Gloves and one Platinum Glove displayed behind him.
Asked when he’s having the most fun on the field, Rizzo said: “For me, it’s when my infielders make a really nice paly, and it’s a do-or-die play over there, and they just throw it with no fear, and I pick them up on the back end.
“Because for me, that’s what I want -- I want all the infielders to be comfortable making that back-handed play or diving play up the middle or down the line and throwing the ball anywhere, knowing I’m going to catch it for them and they don’t need to be worried about making an error being fearless.”
The Cubs’ seven finalists also included Heyward, second baseman Nico Hoerner, catcher Willson Contreras and pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills.
Here are the 2020 Rawlings Gold Glove winners:
1B – Anthony Rizzo, CHC
2B – Kolten Wong, STL
SS – Javier Báez, CHC
3B – Nolan Arenado, COL
LF – Tyler O’Neil, STL
CF – Trent Grisham, SD
RF – Mookie Betts, LAD
C – Tucker Barnhart, CIN
P – Max Fried, ATL
1B – Evan White, SEA
2B – César Hernández, CLE
SS – J.P. Crawford, SEA
3B – Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX
LF – Alex Gordon, KC
CF – Luis Robert, CHW
RF – Joey Gallo, TEX
C – Roberto Perez, CLE
P – Griffin Canning, LAA