Willson Contreras spent last offseason working hard on his pitch framing, which had been low-rated previously.
It worked, as Contreras became one of the best pitch framers in MLB, ranking 11th per Statcast and ninth in this defensive rating from Baseball Prospectus. He also threw out 35 percent of baserunners attempting to steal in 2020.
All of that got Willson a Gold Glove “finalist” ranking from Rawlings:
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists- NL Catcher: Tucker Barnhart, Willson Contreras, Jacob Stallings #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/PsXis1zctt— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
Here are the other Cub finalists:
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists - NL Pitcher: Max Fried, Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/ep7lcURuLr— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
Two Cubs pitchers, Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills, are finalists. Despite Hendricks’ reputation as a good fielder, he has never won a Gold Glove.
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists- NL First Base: Brandon Belt, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/xNcexi0GKH— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
Anthony Rizzo has won three previous Gold Gloves.
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists- NL Second Base: Adam Frazier, Nico Hoerner, Kolten Wong #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/EtbUQX7Uf8— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
I’m a bit surprised at this, because Nico Hoerner played just 37 games at second base, starting 22 of them and playing a full game there only 15 times. He had enough innings (see below) to qualify, but only 208 at second base.
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists- NL Shortstop: Javier Báez, Miguel Rojas, Dansby Swanson #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/O5R99JrTmt— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
Despite Javier Baez’ great fielding reputation, he has never won a Gold Glove. In part that’s because before 2019, he split time at multiple positions. Perhaps this year will be the difference.
Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalists- NL Right Field: Mookie Betts, Charlie Blackmon, Jason Heyward #TeamRawlings #RawlingsGoldGloveAwards pic.twitter.com/kwYzcNIuU4— Rawlings Baseball (@RawlingsSports) October 22, 2020
Jason Heyward has won five Gold Gloves, two as a Cub (2016 and 2017). His defense seemed solid this year, but he’s got some pretty good competition.
Lastly, this note from Rawlings, which probably explains some of the choices above:
Due to the compressed 2020 season, the Award qualifications have been amended to rely solely on the SABR Defensive Index™ (SDI). To be considered, 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).
For the qualifications for normal-length seasons, click the link above.
The winners of the Gold Glove awards for 2020 will be announced Tuesday, November 3 at 6 p.m. CT in a live broadcast on ESPN.