Want a little break from the Joe Girardi news?
The Phillies, a bit surprisingly, have three Gold Glove finalists. J.T. Realmuto was an obvious one, but Bryce Harper is also a finalist in right field and Aaron Nola is one of the three NL pitchers up for the award.
The conversation surrounding Harper's defense is remarkably different than it was at this time last year. Then, there were concerns that Harper's defense negated some of his offense and questions whether he could stick in right field long-term.
Harper dedicated himself to becoming a better and more reliable defender this year. It was apparent almost immediately. After diving for only one ball all season, Harper laid out with regularity this season. There was a stretch in May when Harper dove or slid to catch a ball five times in four games.
Harper also tied a career-high with 13 outfield assists. He had one in 2018.
He doesn't hit the cutoff man enough, but Harper's defensive decision-making did improve with regard to throwing to the correct base. Earlier in his career, he was more prone to airing it out for an unlikely play at the plate with two runners in scoring position than throwing to third to keep a runner at second.
Harper's Gold Glove competition in right field is Jason Heyward and Cody Bellinger. It would be shocking if the award didn't go to Bellinger.
It would be similarly stunning if the Gold Glove award behind the plate goes to anyone other than Realmuto. All due respect to Austin Hedges and Yadier Molina, Realmuto was in a class of his own this season defensively. Throwing out runners, blocking balls, framing pitches ... Realmuto was elite in every category. His athleticism is unmatched at his position.
Nola is a bit of a surprise among pitchers. Jack Flaherty and Zack Greinke are the other two finalists. Nola did improve significantly with holding on runners. Opposing base stealers were just 7 for 15 (47%) against Nola in 2019 after going 48 for 59 (81%) the prior four years. He attempted 185 pickoff throws this season, 27 more than any pitcher in baseball.
Gold Glove winners will be announced on ESPN ay 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.