This week’s respondents are Chad Dotson, Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Clay Marshall and Tom Mitsoff.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: Which of the four Reds Gold Glove finalists has the best chance to win?
Chad: I want to say Tucker Barnhart here, since pretty much every advanced metric rates Barnhart as the best defensive catcher in either league. He also scores well on the “eye test,” catching more would-be base-stealers than any other catcher. He’s a solid choice to win his first Gold Glove … but I’m afraid he won’t win, because his competition is so fierce. Yadier Molina and Buster Posey have won the last nine awards (Molina 8, Posey 1), and Molina still has that formidable neck tattoo that Tucker can’t match.
So I’m going to say Billy Hamilton has the best chance to win. His competition is tough, as well — Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte won the award last year — but this is Hamilton’s fourth time as a finalist, and I’m guessing it’s his turn to win the Gold Glove.
Matt: Unfortunately, I have a feeling they will be 0/4 on Gold Gloves this year. Duvall did well to be a finalist again but will probably not win. Barnhart had a fantastic year but does not have the reputation and will most likely lose out to 8-time winner with neck tats. Votto’s great offensive year ironically helps with his gold glove case, but I fear his poor defensive performance in 2016 holds him back. Playoff appearances by the Cubs and Diamondbacks bolster his competition’s appeal as well. Hamilton makes the most sense but I still fear his time missed due to injury opened the door for the incumbent Inciarte, who played nearly 200 more innings than Billy. However, Inciarte was much more deserving last year, at least according to the metrics, so hopefully the voters placed more value on the numbers this year and reward Billy with his first Gold Glove.
Steve: You can make a reasonable case for any of the four. In LF, Gerardo Parra didn’t play even half a season in left. Marcel Ozuna has a slight edge over Adam Duvall in a few advanced stats, but it’s close. Neither has won a GG before. Duvall has more assists (15 vs. 10) and better range. At catcher, Tucker Barnhart has an edge in advanced stats over Yadi Molina. But until Molina shows decline in his defense, he’ll keep winning. But incumbency isn’t as automatic as it used to be. In CF, Billy Hamilton is clearly ahead of Ender Inciarte in advanced stats. Michael Taylor is ahead of both of them, but played only 940 innings. I could see any of the three winning. At 1B, neither Paul Goldschmidt or Anthony Rizzo is a whiz with the glove, and Joey Votto has an edge in the advanced metrics. Each of the three has won a GG before. I’ll say Votto > Hamilton > Duvall > Barnhart. Votto ahead of Hamilton because a few of the voters let offense leak into their thinking. But I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the four Reds win.
Clay: I fear that starting only 105 games will hurt Tucker Barnhart’s candidacy, and I have a nagging feeling that Billy Hamilton’s late-season injury might once again prevent him from being chosen as well. By leading the league in outfield assists, however, Adam Duvall has a shiny number that even those who can’t easily parse advanced defensive statistics will be able to digest. I also expect Joey Votto to earn a few votes on respect alone for starting all 162 games. It also seems that after a few years of relative collective ignorance, many writers, commentators and tastemakers (for lack of a better term) have come around to appreciate Votto. Hopefully those sentiments will help his cause here, and more importantly, in the MVP vote.
Tom: I have been a member of the Tucker Barnhart Fan Club for years. Joey Votto commented that he believes Barnhart is the best defensive player in the National League, regardless of position. Buster Posey and Yadier Molina have the advantage of being long-time veteran defensive standouts at the position, and that always seems to carry lots of weight. Barnhart had the most runners caught stealing (32) of any major league catcher. Of course, that’s not the only important defensive stat for a catcher, but it is quite noteworthy. Of the Reds’ nominees, I think Billy Hamilton has the best chance. But I think Barnhart is the most deserving.