Braun is one of the three finalists for the NL’s left field award, joining Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and Atlanta’s Martin Prado. At third base, New York’s David Wright and San Diego’s Chase Headley join Ramirez as finalists.
The Gold Glove is supposed to be a defensive award, but if it was, Carlos Gomez would’ve gotten a nod in center. The truth is Braun and Ramirez hit well enough to get noticed and weren’t egregiously bad with the glove.
Braun hit .319/.391/.595 this year and posted a better fWAR total than his MVP season of 2011, most of that thanks to better defensive metrics. Keeping the usual caveats of single-season defensive metrics in mind, Braun rated as +7 in Defensive Runs Saved and had a 2.8 UZR. This year was the first time since 2008 that Braun had a positive UZR, and his numbers there have improved every year since 2009.
Ramirez hit .300/.360/.540 and provided better-than-expected defense at third. He was +4 in DRS this season, representing a 22-run improvement over last year. His 8.2 UZR was his highest since 2007, when he had a UZR of 11.6 (a number that could be considered a bit of a fluke, since that was the only year he was above-average before this year).
Braun and Ramirez were far from bad defensively in 2012, but “better-than-expected” usually doesn’t translate into “Gold Glove winner.” It’s certainly nice for the club to have two players recognized as finalists, but neither could be considered favorites to win the award — if you go by reputation (which seems to weigh even more heavily than offensive numbers), smart money would be on Gonzalez and Wright. There’s also the possibility of Braun being further “punished” for his positive-test-that-wasn’t. Braun was passed over in the Hank Aaron Award voting in favor of Buster Posey over the weekend.
Unlike most other awards, Gold Gloves are not voted on by the BBWAA. The winners will be announced live on Tuesday night on an ESPN2 special that starts at 8 p.m. central time. The Brewers haven’t had a Gold Glove winner since 1982, although Braun was also a finalist last season.