2020 Gold Glove winners: Snubs and surprises abound

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Byron Buxto of the Minnesota Twins attempts to make a diving catch against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Byron Buxto of the Minnesota Twins attempts to make a diving catch against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Trent Grisham of the Padres making a diving grab in center field.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Trent Grisham and Tyler O’Neill are newbies but they had the numbers

Trent Grisham was the first round Brewers selection in 2015, and they might regret trading him to the Padres after watching what he did in 2020. Grisham was traded to the Padres alongside Zach Davies in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer in 2019.

Grisham became the starting center fielder for the Padres in 2020 and he was outstanding. He had some very tough competition to win the 2020 NL Gold Glove among centerfielders: Cody Bellinger and Ronald Acuna Jr.

  • Defensive runs saved above average
    • Grisham 7
    • Acuna Jr. 2
    • Bellinger 5
  • Plus/minus fielding runs above average
    • Grisham 6
    • Acuna Jr. 1
    • Bellinger 7
  • Total zone fielding runs above average
    • Grisham 9
    • Acuna Jr. 6
    • Bellinger 8
  • Assists
    • Grisham 3
    • Acuna Jr. 0
    • Bellinger 1

The centerfield race in the NL was tight, but Grisham deservingly won his first Gold Glove. Grisham also became an important part of the loaded Padres offense, and I expect Grisham to make multiple All-Star appearances in the future. The Gold Glove is just the beginning for him.

Seeing Tyler O’Neill’s name among finalists confused me at first

As a Seattle Mariners fan, all I remember about Tyler O’Neill is his power-hitting ability coming up the ranks as a prospect. O’Neill hit really well while in the Mariners farm system, but Mariners fan never got to see him play in a Mariners uniform. Seattle traded him to the Cardinals for Marco Gonzales which ended up working well for the Mariners.

Now here in 2020, O’Neill received more consistent playtime in the big leagues with the Cardinals. He surprisingly struggled offensively, but his defensive metrics were out of the world. Like I said earlier, O’Neill’s Gold Glove win was a complete surprise to me. He has drastically improved his defense in the outfield since his first call up in 2018. Here is what he did in 2020 compared to the others competing for the left fielder Gold Glove (Shogo Akiyama and David Peralta)

  • Defensive runs saved above average
    • O’Neill 9
    • Akiyama 1
    • Peralta 1
  • Plus/minus fielding runs above average
    • O’Neill 9
    • Akiyama 3
    • Peralta 0
  • Total zone fielding runs above average
    • O’Neill 10
    • Akiyama 1
    • Peralta 5
  • Outfield arm runs above average
    • O’Neill 1
    • Akiyama 1
    • Peralta 0

What is even crazier how much O’Neill improved from 2018 and 2019. In his 2019 season as a 24-year-old, he had zero defensive runs saved. He averaged nine more defensive runs saved compared to last season which is a huge difference. O’Neill’s total zone fielding in 2019 was a negative one, compared to his 10 total zone fielding runs above average in 2020.

It will be interesting to see how O’Neill will grow from this huge accomplishment in his young career. The 25-year-old Cardinals outfielder has not figured out his offense quite yet in the big leagues, but he is apparently capable of learning quickly.