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Desmond, Span finalists for Gold Glove Awards

Two of the Nationals' strengths up the middle -- shortstop Ian Desmond and center fielder Denard Span -- were named finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at their respective positions on Friday.

Desmond, 28, is up against the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki and the Braves' Andrelton Simmons. Span, 29, is competing against the Brewers' Carlos Gomez and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen. Neither National has won the award previously.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

In his fourth full season as the Nationals' shortstop, Desmond had a fielding percentage of .971 and a defensive WAR of 0.4, which was up from 0.1 last year. Simmons, though, led all Major Leaguers this season with a 5.4 defensive WAR.

Desmond appeared in 158 of the Nationals' 162 games, tied for third among Major League shortstops. He was fifth with 234 putouts, third with 446 assists and tied for sixth with 96 double plays turned. He had an ultimate zone rating -- which measures arm, double plays, range and errors -- of 4.4, which is above the Major League average.

Span spent his first season with the Nationals and appeared in 153 games (third in baseball at his position), all in center field. He did not commit an error and turned in a defensive WAR of 0.5, down from each of his last two seasons with the Twins. Gomez was second in baseball, and tops among outfielders, with a 4.6 defensive WAR this season.

Span finished second in the big leagues this season with 379 putouts, and also had five assists. He had a range factor of 2.66 this season, which was seventh among Major League center fielders and second among the NL Gold Glove Award finalists.

Since its inception in 1957, the Gold Glove Awawrd has relied solely on Major League managers and coaches votes to determine the best defensive players. But managers and coaches got an assist this year from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). For the first time, SABR was called upon to formally incorporate sabermetrics as a component of the award.

A committee of experts in baseball analytics and defensive measurement devised the SABR Defensive Index (SDI), which draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball, location-based data, and those collected by from play-by-play accounts.

The three metrics representing batted-ball data include defensive runs saved (from Baseball Info Solutions), ultimate zone rating (developed by sabermetician Mitchel Lichtman), and runs effectively defended (created by SABR's Chris Dial).

The two metrics included in the SDI from play-by-play data are defensive-regression analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and total zone rating.

The plan, according to Rawlings and SABR, is to have the SDI complement the judgment by the managers and coaches. The SABR Defensive Index will account for 30 total votes -- or approximately 25 percent -- of the Gold Glove Award selection process, and will be added to the votes from the managers and coaches.

Ballots were distributed to managers and coaches in September, and they received a revamped statistical resource guide as well.

The complete list of finalists:


Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays
Doug Fister, Tigers

Joe Mauer, Twins
Salvador Perez, Royals
Matt Wieters, Orioles

First base
Chris Davis, Orioles
Eric Hosmer, Royals
James Loney, Rays

Second base
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Ben Zobrist, Rays

Third base
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Manny Machado, Orioles

Alcides Escobar, Royals
Yunel Escobar, Rays
J.J. Hardy, Orioles

Left field
Yoenis Cespedes, A's
Andy Dirks, Tigers
Alex Gordon, Royals

Center field
Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Adam Jones, Orioles

Right field
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Shane Victorino, Red Sox
Josh Reddick, A's


Patrick Corbin, D-backs
Zack Greinke, Dodgers
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

A.J. Ellis, Dodgers
Russell Martin, Pirates
Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First base
Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Second base
Darwin Barney, Cubs
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Mark Ellis, Dodgers

Third base
Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Juan Uribe, Dodgers
David Wright, Mets

Ian Desmond, Nationals
Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Left field
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Starling Marte, Pirates
Eric Young Jr., Mets

Center field
Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Denard Span, Nationals

Right field
Jay Bruce, Reds
Jason Heyward, Braves
Gerardo Parra, D-backs

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.

Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond, Denard Span