The two young infielders each received their first Rawlings Gold Glove honors in the ESPN-televised production, the most in one year for the Mariners since outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez both took home the awards in 2010. The last time two Seattle infielders were selected in the same season was 2003 when Bret Boone and John Olerud were part of a four-man Mariners Gold Glove contingent.
The Mariners had at least one American League Gold Glove winner for 23 consecutive seasons from 1987-2010, thanks in part to streaks of 10 straight by both Ken Griffey Jr. (1990-99) and Ichiro (2001-10), but they’d had just two in the ensuing decade with Kyle Seager in ’14 and Mike Leake in ’19 until this year’s new youthful wave.
White, a 24-year-old rookie, unseated two-time winner Matt Olson of the Athletics with an outstanding season at first base. Crawford, a 25-year-old in his first full season as a starter, provided a new face at shortstop after Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Andrelton Simmons of the Angels had won the last four AL Gold Gloves at that position.
“It’s definitely awesome, definitely a dream come true,” White said. “Defense is something I take a lot of pride in, so to be able to see that rewarded is really special. Also seeing J.P. and all the work he’s put in and be rewarded as well was incredible. It’s really cool for us to be able to share our first one together.”
White struggled at the plate in his first season in the Majors after being promoted from Double-A, but he was sterling from start to finish in the field. According to FanGraphs, White led AL first basemen with seven defensive runs saved, two ahead of Olson. He also was first in out of zone plays with 11 and scoops with seven, while his UZR of 2.2 was second to Olson’s 2.5.
White’s .998 fielding percentage was just fractions of a point behind fellow finalists Yuli Gurriel of the Astros and Olson, who both also rounded out at .998, and he ended the season with 49 consecutive games without an error in 363 total chances.
Crawford also graded out well in the FanGraphs defensive metrics in the highly competitive shortstop field. He led AL shortstops with 62 out of zone plays, was second to Carlos Correa in defensive runs saved (6) and second to Lindor in defensive WAR (4.9) and UZR (2.5).
“I think this year was about making a statement that I’m here and I’m here to stay,” Crawford said. “The year before, I just was trying to show everybody what I’ve got. This year everybody knew what I had and I had to take that step forward. I’m happy with my results and just thank God all the hours I put in have paid off.”
Crawford appreciated the help of White as well in taking the next step defensively.
“I couldn’t have done it without him, hands down,” he said. “He’s one of the best first basemen I’ve ever had. He makes everything so much easier for me and my teammates. If we have a shot at a play, you just get the ball over in the vicinity of him. He helps us make better plays because you can just throw the ball over there without having to think about it. Big props, big shout out to Evan. He got one, too, and he definitely deserves it.”
Defensive metrics were even more important in this 60-game season. Since 2013, Rawlings determined its Gold Glove winners using a formula-based 75 percent on a vote from managers and coaches and 25 percent on sabermetric factors.
But since teams were separated into three geographic regions this year with no crossover during the regular season, Rawlings eliminated the manager and coach votes and went strictly with sabermetrics from MLBAM's Statcast, Sports Information Solutions data, and STATS LLC data as well as traditional statistics with advanced analysis.
White is the first rookie first baseman in either league to win a Gold Glove since the award began in 1957 and the second rookie in Mariners history to be selected at any position, along with Ichiro in 2001. He’s the second Mariners first baseman to be honored, joining three-time winner John Olerud (2000, 2002-03).
Crawford becomes just the second Mariners shortstop to win the award, joining Omar Vizquel in 1993. Both Crawford and White said the honors are further motivation for a young club that also hopes to add an AL Rookie of the Year Award for Kyle Lewis when that trophy is handed out Monday on MLB Network.
“We’re not done yet,” Crawford said. “Hopefully we still have another teammate getting an award with K-Lew for Rookie of the Year. We still have to take that one home as well, so we’ll see what happens with that. But we’re heading in the right direction and if everyone keeps taking that step forward, we’re going to be scary.”