So I asked a few friends recently about what they would like to see me write about the Blue Jays this offseason. One of the questions was why Kevin Pillar can’t seem to win a Gold Glove for the stellar defense in center field. Now I can be very tough on him as a hitter as those of you who have read my blog know. A lot of people want to think it's because the Blue Jays play in Toronto and there's no way they'll vote a guy from a Canadian team as a winner of the Gold Glove. That's not true not at all. This team has a storied history of numerous Gold Glove winners. For Pillar however; it's quite simple: He’s the second best guy out there and has been for the past two seasons.
If you look at the simple stats, Kiermaier had a better fielding percentage at .993 to Pillars .983. That means that Kiermaier only had 2 errors in his time in the outfield as compared to Pillars 6. Now some of you big Toronto fans are going to say: “But Pillar played 42 more games than Kiermaier!” Yes, that is true but in less games Kiermaier had 1 more outfield assist and had only 60 less chances of fielding the ball. That works out to close to 1.5 chances a game if Kiermaier had played the whole season. So, there is a chance that had he played as many games as Pillar, he would have made as many errors. It could have happened but if you’re going to look at the negative, then you’ve got to think that he’d have far more assists than Pillar and would have reached double digits.
He's pretty, pretty...pretty good.
Now those are looking at the basic stats; but with advanced metrics and analytics we can delve a bit further into the stats. I’m going to just browse a few because this is new to a lot of us and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
Ya Steve...I don't really understand advanced stats either.
First we’ll look at Total Zone Total Runs Fielding Above Average. This measures the total runs above or below average the player was worth based on total plays made. Pillar was a 4. That means he would worth 4 runs over say Carrera playing centre field instead of him. Kiermaier on the other hand was a 10. 2.5 times better than Pillar with one-third the games played. That number jumps off the page right away at you. So you’ve got to think that really hurt Pillar in the voters mind.
It hurts about that much. Maybe more.
Next we will look at Defensive Runs saved. Really simple here. If an average player plays instead of the two guys we’re looking at their team could look to give up that many more runs over the course of the season. Pillar saved 21 runs in centre. Kiermaier; 25. So again in one-third the games Kiermaier posts a number that is a fair amount higher. Right now it’s 2-0 Kiermaier so, I’m assuming you know where this is going.
The last stat I want to look at is Outfield Arms Runs Above Average. Again it compares our top guys to the average players in the league based on not only how many assists but how many guys are unable to advance on throws whether it be hitting the cut off man or the right base. Pillar was at 4. Kiermaier 12. That’s not even close. So Kiermaier either threw out or stopped runners advance at 3x the number that Pillar did.
Comes up pretty short doesn't he?
Just looking at those three stats alone shows just how one sided this competition is. Don’t get me wrong; I love Pillar in centre field. After years of having Colby Rasmus (never seemed to play deep enough) and Rajai Davis it’s nice to have a guy that we can depend on basically any ball hit his way to give 100% effort on. He’ll even run through his own teammates; isn’t that right Tulo? Kiermaier just outright deserved the award this year and last year. It happens. Sometimes no matter how good you are, there’s always someone better. Think of the guys who played second base during the 90’s when Roberto Alomar was manning that position. They never had a chance unfortunately and that was before advanced stats.
Sure my mother-in-law will probably disown me for saying he’s not the greatest but let’s be happy to say we’ve got the second best guy in the American League patrolling our outfield. I’m ok with that because we know on a nightly basis, whether you’re at the park or watching on t.v.; there’s a chance that you’re going to see a highlight reel catch. So there you go boys, that’s why Pillar came in second again. Not because he isn’t good but because there is a guy out there who is far better.