Major League Baseball’s Gold Glove and Silver Slugger categories added a “utility man” category last year. This follows a recent trend of Major League Baseball teams emphasizing the multi-positional skills of their players.
For example, if a player played 1,000 innings at second base, third base, and shortstop, it would be difficult for him to win a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger if the three positions were evenly distributed. This is because the voters can’t help but take defensive innings into account. Locally, there is a relatively favorable response to the idea that utility players can be valued.
However, this year’s Utility Gold Glove category may be contested by players who played together as part of the Korean National Team at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego), a former shortstop, and Tommy Edmon (28, St. Louis), a former second baseman, are the frontrunners for the award.
Their defensive prowess is already well-established. Edmon, who has been recognized for his defense and athleticism since his amateur days, won a Gold Glove at second base in 2021, his third year in the game. He’s already been recognized as one of the best defensive players in the league. Since his major league debut in 2019, Edmon has never posted a negative Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
Kim, who was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop in the National League last year, has been making a name for himself on defense this year. He leads the majors in DRS (a metric that measures how many runs a defense prevents) by a wide margin. Local media are even predicting his first All-Star Game appearance based on his defense.
Both players are likely to be included in the utility category rather than a specific position. Kim has been the team’s starting second baseman this year, but has been bouncing between positions due to team needs. He played third base during Manny Machado’s injury and shortstop during Xander Bogaerts’ injury. He’s also been filling in when they’ve needed to rest. Edmon plays both infield and outfield. This year, he’s also playing a lot of center field defense.
Through 12 days, Kim has played 290⅓ innings at second base, 136⅓ innings at third base, and 76⅓ innings at shortstop. There are very few infielders in the league who have played all three positions.
The same goes for Edmon, who has played every position but first base and catcher in his career. This year, Edmon has played 228 innings at shortstop, 150⅓ at second base, and 136⅔ in the outfield. Separating the outfields, he played 92⅓ innings in center field and 44⅓ innings in right field. He’s an all-around player.안전놀이터
Kim is +7 in OAA this year, which ranks eighth in the majors. The players ahead of him on the list are all solid at their positions. None of them can be categorized as utility players. Edmon is also recognized for his defense, posting a +3 OAA despite the difficulty of playing multiple positions. He’s a stellar defender in the infield, and as he gains more experience in center field, his OAA could accelerate. It’ll be interesting to see which of these two players ends up winning the Gold Glove.