After years of watching downright loathsome defensive play by a collection of various statue-like Mariners, Seattle fans were treated to some sparkling defensive infield play in 2020. Today, Rawlings recognized that level of play by awarding Gold Gloves to both 1B Evan White and SS J.P. Crawford. It’s the first Gold Glove for either player.
For White, not only is it his first Gold Glove (first of many, obviously), but it’s also the first time in the award’s history it’s been given to a rookie. White led all AL first basemen with 7 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and while Oakland’s Matt Olson had a slight edge over him in Outs Above Average (OAA) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), the margins were small, while White ranked close to or at the top of all other categories. White is the Mariners’ first Gold Glove winner at first base since John Olerud back in the early 2000s.
This year’s awards were determined entirely by numbers; no votes were cast. I don’t know how footwork is measured by analytics, but I feel confident in saying there isn’t another first baseman in baseball who is on par with the quality of White’s footwork.
While White looks like he was born on first base, J.P. Crawford’s journey to his first Gold Glove was a little more circuitous, and owes much to the hard work he put in with Mariners infield coach Perry Hill, who also helped Dee Gordon win his first Gold Glove in Miami. Remember, it was just January of 2019 when John wrote this exhaustive summary of J.P. Crawford’s errors from his time with Philadelphia. That’s quite a glow-up from that to the Gold Glove-quality of play Seattle fans were treated to this season:
Okay, just one more:
Obviously, there are other factors at play here. It should be noted that excellent defensive positioning by the Mariners allow J.P. and his fellow defenders to be in the right spot to make the plays (the Mariners led the majors in Positioning Runs Saved this season). Evan White’s Stretch Armstrong-like range emboldens defenders, especially J.P., to be able to chuck the ball in the general direction of first base this season and assume it would be caught. And finally, the impact of Perry Hill’s wisdom can’t be overstated. The man just makes Gold Glove winners. But it’s a testament to J.P.’s work ethic and natural talent that he was able to marshal all those forces and earn his first Gold Glove over a very deserving candidate in the always-excellent Carlos Correa. Crawford is only the second Mariners player ever to win a Gold Glove at shortstop, joining the great Omar Vizquel back in 1993.
The Mariners technically had a Gold Glove player in 2019, with Mike Leake, but for a full-time position player you have to go all the way back to 2014 and Kyle Seager (and Josh Donaldson getting extremely salty about it, if you remember). This is the first time the Mariners have had two winners in a season in a decade, since Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez won for the outfield in 2010 (the last time the Mariners had two infield winners? Bret Boone and John Olerud, 2003). It’s been a long drought of solid defensive play for the club, and even though White and Crawford earned recognition today, the 2020 Mariners as a team rank in the top 10 for Defensive Runs Saved for the first time since 2009 after ranking 29th just last year.
Unlike the Gold Gloves, the Platinum Glove award will be voted on by fans, and you can do that here: https://www.rawlings.com/gold-glove-platinum.html. Anyone who votes will also be entered to win prizes from Rawlings.