Chapman, Kiermaier, Berríos bring home Gold Glove hardware

November 6th, 2023

TORONTO -- Three Blue Jays players won a 2023 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, tied for the most in Major League Baseball after an excellent defensive season. 

’s fourth career Gold Glove Award sends him into free agency with another accolade at third base, while the same goes for , who got the nod in center field for his fourth (first since 2019). Joining the usual suspects is starting pitcher José Berríos, a first-time winner.

A year ago, Chapman’s teammates and coaches expressed their surprise that he hadn’t been named a finalist for the award, which they felt he deserved despite some defensive metrics ranking him below the top names. Those metrics didn’t skyrocket in 2023, either, but the Gold Glove Awards are voted on by MLB managers and coaching staffs who compete against Chapman for 162 games a season and share an appreciation for his game.

Chapman’s season was defined by a scorching-hot April that fizzled at the plate, but defensively, he was rock solid through the heart of the season until a right finger injury challenged him later in the year. Chapman ranked 11th among all MLB third baseman in Outs Above Average (OAA), which measures the cumulative effect of a fielder’s plays.

Kiermaier’s recognition comes as no surprise, and after years of watching him patrol center for the Rays, Blue Jays fans finally got to see what his defensive excellence looks like over 162 games.

Like Chapman, Kiermaier is a defender at heart who speaks about fielding with the same passion with which great hitters discuss their swing. He tied for the highest OAA total among AL center fielders with Luis Robert Jr. (13) of the White Sox and trailed only National League Gold Glove Award winner Brenton Doyle (16) of the Rockies in MLB.

What makes Kiermaier truly special is his initial jump. An outfielder’s “jump” is defined as the first three seconds after the batter makes contact, and in that three-second span, Kiermaier covers 3.3 feet more than the average fielder. That’s the best in baseball, and has catapulted Kiermaier into the conversation of the best defenders of this generation.

Pitcher defense tends to rely on the eye test a bit more than center field, given the metrics and data available, which Berríos nailed. The right-hander recorded a career-high 26 assists and 15 putouts with just two errors in 2023, making all of the routine plays and most of the difficult ones. Blue Jays pitchers seemed to be plagued by hard ground balls directly back at them this season, but Berríos was consistently in an athletic position to make a play.

This puts the bow on an excellent season for Berríos, who bounced back from an ugly 2022 with a 3.65 ERA over 189 2/3 innings. The lasting memory of his season will be the finale in Minneapolis, when he was surprisingly lifted in the middle of a dominant outing in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series, but Berríos held up his end of the bargain every step of the way this season.