The Milwaukee Brewers hadn’t celebrated a Gold Glove winner since Robin Yount won the award in 1982 for his work at shortstop. On Tuesday, though, the lengthy drought ended when Carlos Gomez was named the ’13 Gold Glove Award winner in center field.
It’s perhaps the least-surprising award of the season. Gomez has clearly been the most superior center fielder in Major League Baseball this year, much less the National League. In fact, his cumulative +26.5 UZR more than doubles his closest counterpart, Denard Span of the Washington Nationals (+12.4). Including other positions, only shortstop Andrelton Simmons possessed a higher UZR, so it’s not exaggerating to suggest Gomez was one of the elite defenders in all of baseball this year.
I don’t want to overstate Gomez’s abilities in center field. He’s obviously tremendous, but one would have a difficult time arguing that he’s the best center fielder since the turn of the century. If we look at the top UZRs amongst center fielders since 2000, it’s pretty clear that award should be granted to Andruw Jones.
|5||2007||Coco Crisp||Red Sox||+27.1|
Andrew Jones was crazy good for an extended period of time. He was a perennial five-to-six win player from 1998 to 2006 for the Atlanta Braves — the rare blend of 30+ home run power plus an elite glove in center field. Not to mention he was swiping 20+ bases for a few years, too.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Carlos Gomez’s crazy good season in center and how opposing hitters simply couldn’t hit the baseball over his head at Miller Park. Overall, he ended up surrendering a handful of hits over his head at Miller Park, but the following hit chart illustrates just how special he was with the glove in 2013.
For comparison, here’s the hit chart for Andrew McCutchen, who somehow won the NL Gold Glove award for center fielders last season (which clearly should’ve been awarded to Michael Bourn, but I digress):
I do not wish to minimize the effects of McCutchen playing in PNC Park. That matters, especially when comparing the number of balls hit over each respective defender’s head in center, but the sheer size of the white space (think of it as “the no-hit zone”) is much larger in Gomez’ hit chart than it is in McCutchen’s.
So, while you may not be a fan of UZR, we can still visually depict just how valuable Carlos Gomez was defensively this season — especially when placed in juxtaposition to the guy who was supposedly the best defensive center fielder in the National League a year ago. His unexpected production at the plate only made his season more special. That was just icing on the cake. The Gold Glove caliber defense was already a mainstay, but the above-average production at the plate makes him a potential elite player in Major League Baseball.
That three-year, $24M extension he signed prior to the season looks tremendous at this point. Doug Melvin has really outdone himself recently with contract extensions, as Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy have two of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball. The organization correctly identified talent and struck a deal prior to their breakout seasons. Now, the team and the fans are reaping the rewards.
Congratulations to Mr. Carlos Gomez on a tremendous all-around season, but more importantly, congratulations to him on a phenomenal defensive year in center field. The Gold Glove couldn’t have gone to anyone else.