Most Major League Baseball fans are not going to think of Kyle Farmer as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. But given what the Cincinnati Reds infielder has shown this season, it’s hard to ignore Farmer’s elite defensive play.
Farmer, who seems to make a fabulous, highlight reel-type of play every game, did so again during the eighth inning of last night’s contest versus the Chicago Cubs. Streaking into the outfield, Farmer robbed Frank Schwindel of a would-be base hit with a sliding grab in left-center field. It was a good thing too, because the next batter, Ian Happ, homered to make it a one-run game.
There are better defensive shortstops in the league, and while I’m a huge fan of Kyle Farmer and what he brings to this Reds team, I’m not naive enough to stump for him to win the Gold Glove at shortstop. However, the 31-year-old should certainly be in contention.
Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer should be a serious contender for a Gold Glove.
I’m going to try to be as unbiased as possible, so let’s look at the numbers, shall we? Forget stats like batting average, wRC+, WAR, etc. We’re focusing strictly on the defensive metrics. And while most fans and pundits don’t pay attention to fielding percentage as an accurate way to measure a player’s defensive capabilities, I believe it’s still very relevant.
Fielding percentage, essentially, measures a player’s ability to make a proper catch or throw, taking into consideration the number of opportunities a defender has to make a play. Farmer ranks second in the league in fielding percentage (.989) among NL shortstops this season.
The Reds shortstop trails only the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Kevin Newman (.992). The biggest reason for Farmer’s elite-level fielding percentage is his minuscule number of errors this season. Farmer only has 4 errors on the season, the second fewest in the National League. Of his four miscues, only one was a fielding error, which is the best among all shortstops in the league.
Defensive runs saved (DRS) is a popular metric used nowadays, and Farmer’s 3 DRS are tied with Trevor Story for seventh among NL shortstops. Newman and New York Mets’ shortstop Francisco Lindor lead the way with 6 DRS.
FanGraphs uses a metric called UZR that estimates theoretical runs above or below average. So, a player that has a 0 UZR is an average defender at his position. Kyle Farmer ranks fifth among all NL shortstops with 3.2 UZR.
Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer has 7 outs above average (OAA) this season.
Let’s look at one more defensive statistic that may be chief among today’s baseball writers and fans; outs above average. With Statcast and Baseball Savant leading an analytics-heavy revolution, a player’s OAA is an incredibly valuable way to discern one’s defensive prowess.
Kyle Farmer has 7 OAA this season which places him eighth among all shortstops and fourth among those in the National League. Nick Ahmed leads the way for all NL shortstops with 20 OAA and Lindor ranks second with 17 OAA.
Will Kyle Farmer take home some hardware this season? That seems doubtful. While Farmer is among the best in the league in nearly every defensive category, there’s no one statistic where the former backstop leads the way.
Will Farmer be among the Top 3 candidates to take home the Gold Glove when the awards are announced later this year? Now that is a distant possibility. While the fans and writers may not want to admit it, the Gold Glove isn’t always about being the best defender at your position, but popularity oftentimes plays a role as well.
With top shortstops like Francisco Lindor, Brandon Crawford, and Trea Turner among the best defenders as well, I have a sneaking suspicion that Kyle Farmer will be on the outside looking in when the Gold Glove Awards are handed out this fall.