Reds fans were in awe of TJ Friedl's home run-robbing catch in the top of the third inning of Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Guardians.
Guardians' outfielder Ramon Laureno, who's very good defensive outfielder in his own right, sent ball into deep center field, but the would-be two-run homer was pulled back into the field play by Friedl who secured the catch to end the inning.
That catch turned the tide in a 1-1 ballgame, and may even help propel the Cincinnati Reds back to their winning ways with three games on tap versus the Toronto Blue Jays. But, while Friedl may be the best defender on the Reds this season, he's not in the Gold Glove conversation.
TJ Friedl may be the Reds best defender, but he's not in the Gold Glove conversation.
While baseball fans know that the Gold Glove doesn't always award the best defender, more times than not, it does. Let's hope we don't have another Juan Soto situation this year.
Last year, the trio of Mookie Betts, Trent Grisham, and Ian Happ took home the Gold Glove Awards for National League outfielders. Among the other finalists in the NL were Soto, Daulton Varsho, Victor Robles, Alek Thomas, David Peralta, and Christian Yelich.
While fielding percentage, errors, and outfield assists used to dominate the conversation, newer metrics like outs aboave average (OAA) and defensive runs saved (DRS) have entered the chat. With that in mind, how does TJ Friedl rank among his peers?
According to Baseball Savant, among National League outfielders, Friedl ranks 15th along his teammate Jake Fraley with 3 outs above average. Some names ahead of Friedl on the list include Jazz Chisholm, Jason Heyward, and the aforementioned Trent Grisham.
As for defensive runs saved, according to Fielding Bible, Friedl's 5 DRS come in behind the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr., Brenton Doyle, and Joey Wiemer.
Yes, TJ Friedl is unquestionably the Cincinnati Reds best defender, but he's going to have wait until next year before he garners the type of attention that would see him enter the conversation as one of the best defenders in the game.
The last Reds player to win a Gold Glove Award was Tucker Barnhart in 2020. Former Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton was finalist for the award five times during his time in Cincinnati, but never took home the trophy.