A first baseman won the “Platinum Glove” award for best overall defender. OK.
The sixth-annual Rawlings Platinum Glove Awards were announced over the weekend. The Platinum Glove recognizes the best defensive player in each league. Only those Gold Glove Awards were eligible for the Platinum Glove Award. The winners are determined by a combination of a fan vote and SABR’s Defensive Index metric.
The AL winner was Francisco Lindor, the Indians shortstop. Defensible! Shortstop is an extraordinarily difficult and important defensive position! If you’re going to pick the best defender out of all of the elite defenders, picking the shortstop is going to be a good call much if not most of the time.
Which makes the NL choice so weird. It was Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. I repeat: First. Baseman.
To be clear, Rizzo is an outstanding first baseman. But it’s also the case that, with all apologies to Wash, it’s one of the least critical defensive positions. One which, historically, has often been where teams try to hide guys who can’t play very good defense. And often that strategy succeeds. It’s technically harder than a lot of people assume -- the footwork is hard and the sheer number of plays you have to make will, eventually, expose the charlatans -- but it’s not like shortstop. Or catcher. Or center field.
If you’re picking the cream of the cream of the crop defensively, and you pick a first baseman, you may want to reexamine the manner in which you make your choices.