The Battle for the National League Gold Glove at Shortstop


Any fan that has watched on a semi-consistent basis in 2014, knows the defensive prowess that Zack Cozart possesses. The former Ole Miss Rebel has performed nothing short of wizardry at shortstop this year—but will that earn him his first Gold Glove?

Technically, the last Red to win the award was Barry Larkin back in 1996. But, from 2001-2004, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria and Cesar Izturis all had a claim to the honor, just to become double play partners with Brandon Phillips later on in their career.

Standing before Cozart is some stiff competition. There are three current National League Gold Glove winners to compete with in Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins and the reigning champion, Andrelton Simmons. (With Tulowitzki playing in only 91 games all season, and being on the shelf the rest of the way due to hip surgery, he is more than likely eliminated from contention.)

Voting for the Gold Glove award has always been a curious proposition. With the new age sabermetrics coming to the forefront, ratings once unattainable have been given a voice—or at least a number.

According to defensive WAR from, Zack Cozart is the third best defender in all of baseball with a 3.0 WAR, meaning his defense earns the Reds three more wins per season than the average replacement level player. Unfortunately for Cozart, Andrelton Simmons is breathing hot down his neck with a 2.9 WAR, good for fourth best in all of baseball.

Where the award will be decided is sadly not on defense, but with the bat. In an award where defense is valued, a player’s offensive production is brought into the fold. No matter how well Cozart plays defensively, he has batted perpetually around the .225 mark all season long, while having collected just three home runs and 33 RBI as of this writing. In contrast, Simmons is batting .251 with seven home runs and 43 RBI—not that much better, but more efficient nonetheless.

Both men face a serious outside threat in Jhonny Peralta. Having started the season incredibly slow for the St. Louis Cardinals, and fresh off his 50-game PED suspension in 2013, Peralta has lit the world ablaze in the Midwest. So much so, there have even been MVP whispers for him, and not teammate Yadier Molina.

While Peralta possesses a 2.2 dWAR, just percentage points behind both Cozart and Simmons, he nearly fails the eye test.

Fans that are devout sabermetrics followers will claim that the eye test has been taken out of baseball, but all it takes is a simple check of whom the manager’s select every year, and how they do it. Not one notes, “looking at the dWAR,” or a “player’s UZR rating.” Managers are responsible for who wins the award and they are using nothing but their hawk eyes.

For those fans that want to anoint Cozart as the Gold Glove winner based purely on dWAR, it would only be fair to point out that Brandon Phillips has a dWAR of 0.5. Now, to think that Phillips’ defense has only been responsible for half of a win over the defensive likes of Skip Schumaker and Ramon Santiago is nothing but incorrect.

As helpful as modern day statistics have been in determining who is the best, all we really know at this point is that Zack Cozart is pretty damn good.