Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart has a good case to win his second Gold Glove.
Award season for Major League Baseball begins in November and it may be wise for Tucker Barnhart to start making room on his mantelpiece. The Cincinnati Reds catcher is a finalist for the National League Gold Glove along with catchers Jacob Stallings and Willson Contreras. Honestly, this should be one of the least competitive contests during the annual award season.
Barnhart led all NL backstops with a career-high nine defensive runs saved according to FanGraphs. Meanwhile, his competitors Stallings and Contreras posted numbers of seven and one respectively in the same category. Tucker Barnhart‘s previous best of 14 defensive runs saved occurred during the 2017 season in which he won his first Gold Glove.
When it comes to controlling the running game, Barnhart was once again better than his fellow rivals. Throwing out 36% of would-be base stealers, Barnhart edged Contreras’ rate of 35% and Stallings 33% mark. In what’s becoming a theme, Tucker’s 36% caught stealing rate was again his best mark since nailing a league-best 44% base runners during the 2017 campaign.
Additionally, Barnhart did not commit an error during the 2020 season and allowed just two passed balls. In the meantime, Jacob Stallings was charged with four errors and three passed balls while Willson Contreras was tagged with two miscues, but avoided conceding a passed ball.
It can’t be overstated, but being a previous Gold Glove recipient carries weight with voters. During the previous 63 years, the award has been given to only 24 catchers. The voters love rewarding past winners.
Neither Contreras nor Stallings has snared the top defensive prize and combined with Barnhart’s superior numbers as well as his reputation as a premier defensive backstop, it’s difficult to imagine the two other catchers overcoming those odds.
Should Tucker Barnhart win his second Gold Glove, he will join some elite company. He’ll join Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina as the only catchers in the senior circuit to capture multiple Gold Gloves since the 2007 season.
Barnhart will also become the second Cincinnati Reds catcher to win multiple Gold Gloves. Granted he’s never going to approach Johnny Bench’s record of 10 trophies for NL catchers, but it’s still an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest backstop of all-time.
Reds fans should enjoy an entertaining November. In addition to Barnhart, left fielder Shogo Akiyama has also been nominated for a Gold Glove and pitcher Trevor Bauer has an excellent chance of winning the first Cy Young Award in Cincinnati Reds franchise history. However, the smart money to walk away with hardware this offseason remains with Tucker Barnhart.