Barnhart joins Bench, Edwards with 2nd GG

November 4th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- For the second time in his career, Reds catcher was recognized as the best at his position defensively. Barnhart was named a 2020 Rawlings National League Gold Glove Award winner in balloting results announced on Tuesday.

Barnhart, who earned his first NL Gold Glove Award with Cincinnati in 2017, led Major League catchers this season with nine Defensive Runs Saved and was fourth in the NL with 5.8 defensive Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs. He beat out fellow finalists Willson Contreras of the Cubs and Jacob Stallings of the Pirates.

Barnhart also joined Johnny Bench (10) and Johnny Edwards (two) as the only catchers in Reds history to win multiple Gold Gloves.

“Winning the first one in ’17 was like a dream come true, then you just kind of set out to not make that become the one and only,” Barnhart said. “Obviously, there was a couple of years in between that I didn’t have as good of a defensive year as I would’ve liked. To win it this year when it is strictly based on numbers, there’s really no arguing it. For me, it means everything.”

Reds left fielder was also a finalist for his position, but Tyler O’Neill from the Cardinals took home the award.

Barnhart, 29, did not make an error over 36 games and 272 1/3 innings behind the plate this season. He allowed two passed balls and caught 36.4% of attempted basestealers.

For catcher framing, Barnhart was tied for 15th in the Majors -- along with teammate Curt Casali -- for adding one run from extra strikes gained. This is based on his called-strike rate (50.4%) on pitches taken on the edges of the strike zone (MLB average was 48.5%).

Working with catching and third-base coach J.R. House the past two seasons has helped Barnhart with his framing. His 50.4% strike rate was a career high and big jump from 2018, when he was at 43.5% and minus-10 runs added from extra strikes.

“J.R. just brought some different numbers to the table that I hadn’t really seen before,” Barnhart said. “I was able to see how kind of striking that they were. It really stunk in a way to see, but it was also really cool because knowing in ’17 that I won a Gold Glove and those numbers were where they were, it was exciting because I knew I could get better and get back here."

Since their inception in 1957, the Gold Gloves were awarded via voting by managers and coaches with sabermetric data becoming part of the process in 2013.

Because of the uniquely shortened 2020 season, award qualifications were amended to rely solely on the SABR defensive index. That draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and data collected from play-by-play accounts. SDI utilizes Statcast, Sports Information Solutions data, and STATS data, as well as traditional statistics with advanced analysis.

Barnhart did not have a sense if he had a Gold Glove-caliber season until his agent, Steve Rath, showed him some numbers at the end of the season.

“Whenever I was in the lineup, I felt like I was playing good, especially defensively,” Barnhart said. “I just worried I didn’t play enough games, but that’s obviously out of my control. It wasn’t toward the end of the year when I was thinking, 'I have a shot.' I just wasn’t sure what was going into the voting this year. I wasn’t sure what the other guys did.”

In a nifty coincidence, Barnhart and his wife, Sierra, welcomed the first baby boy, Tatum, in 2017. In ’20, the Barnharts welcomed their second child -- another son named Benson.

“It's just something cool that me and my boys will be able to look back on and talk about for forever,” Barnhart said. “I'm really happy and proud of that.”