Wong, O'Neill win NL Gold Glove Awards

November 4th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals’ all-time Gold Glove Award number bumped up to a Major League-leading 91 on Tuesday night, when second baseman and left fielder won the award at their respective positions in the National League.

It is the 30th time the Cardinals have had multiple Gold Glove winners in the same season and first time since 2015.

Wong, who is a free agent after the Cardinals didn’t pick up his $12.5 million option last week, won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award as the NL’s top second baseman, beating out the Pirates’ Adam Frazier and the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner. Wong debuted a new glove this year commemorating his first Gold Glove Award, but he never wanted to settle at just one award.

Even in the shortened 2020 season, he put together a highlight reel of defensive gems. Those won’t be overlooked as he fields interest from teams this offseason.

The 30-year-old led NL second basemen with a 3.8 Ultimate Zone Rating and six Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs, and was 10th among all Major League second basemen with two Outs Above Average, according to Statcast. He led the league with 129 assists, despite the Cardinals playing only 58 games compared to the rest of the NL playing 60. Wong also led in double plays turned, with 29, while only committing two errors.

With his first career Gold Glove Award, O'Neill became the first left fielder in Cardinals history to earn the trophy. He racked up nine DRS, which was four more than any other NL left fielder, and four OAA -- numbers that are akin to steady center fielders. That stands out in left field, a position where big bats typically play. The 25-year-old flashed his speed -- he’s one of the fastest players on the Cardinals -- to extend his range and emerge as a worthy newcomer in the Gold Glove field.

Both Wong and O’Neill won the Fielding Bible Awards of Baseball Info Solutions last week. That honor differs from the Gold Gloves in that the two leagues’ defenders are lumped together at every position.

Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished behind the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for the award at their position. Goldschmidt has radically improved the Cardinals’ infield defense the past two seasons. In 2020, he had one DRS and one error.

The Gold Glove results usually rely on a mix of voting from coaches and managers along with advanced metrics to determine the winners. But the shortened season caused officials to award the winners based only on the metrics because teams spent the regular season within their geographic regions. Teams from the AL and NL Central didn’t see any teams in the East or West. The finalists were the three highest scores based on statistics.

The Cardinals led the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved with 33, according to FanGraphs, ahead of the Dodgers with 29. They were once again one of the best defensive teams in the Majors in 2020, with Goldschmidt and Wong anchoring the infield and O’Neill emerging as a defensive talent in left field.