Gold Glove for Fletcher? Maddon says yes

September 19th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Joe Maddon was uncharacteristically fired up as he started his pregame interview with reporters before Saturday’s game against Oakland, beginning his session with an impassioned endorsement of for the AL Gold Glove Award at second base this year.

Maddon doesn’t believe it should be a particularly close race, as he thinks Fletcher has put together one of the greatest defensive seasons he’s ever seen.

“I’ve not seen a body of work better than him in a season,” Maddon said. “And I’ll say this, he’s the best infielder [in the Majors]. I like [A's third baseman Matt] Chapman. Him and Fletcher have been the two best infielders I’ve seen this year. But don’t tell me there’s a player, both leagues, who plays that position better than him. Anyone trying to make that argument anywhere, come see me.

"I want to get this out there right now before people start voting because it would be an absolute shame if anybody thought there was anybody better than him at that position.”

The award is voted on by managers and coaches -- they can’t vote for players on their own club -- while the SABR Defensive Index also accounts for roughly 25 percent of the calculation. The SDI combines six different defensive data sources and rates things such as the defender's arm strength, accuracy, range and ability to avoid errors, while also tabulating "excellent" and "poor" defensively plays. It also accounts for a player's ability to turn double plays.

The last SDI rankings were released on Aug. 22 and Fletcher was tied for the fifth-best second baseman in the AL. Toronto's Marcus Semien was the leader, followed by Kansas City's Whit Merrifield, Minnesota's Jorge Polanco and Houston's Jose Altuve. Fletcher was right behind that group, but Maddon said he doesn't believe those metrics were accurate when it comes to Fletcher.

“Those numbers can be so off, so skewed, so biased,” Maddon said. “There are many things with those numbers I don’t agree with, quite frankly. You know if a defender is good by watching or not. You don’t need a metric, you don’t need a number. It’s something you have to see. So that would be an absolute sham if that number influences who wins. That’s just my opinion.”