Major League Baseball's best defenders were honored on Wednesday with the unveiling of this year's Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winners during a telecast on MLB Network.Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, and the D-backs earned Defensive Team of the
Major League Baseball's best defenders were honored on Wednesday with the unveiling of this year's Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winners during a telecast on MLB Network.
Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, and the D-backs earned Defensive Team of the Year status for the second time in four years.
The Angels' Andrelton Simmons led the pack with his fifth award, the most at any position since the award was established in 2012, and Colorado's DJ LeMahieu and Kansas City's Alex Gordon each won for a third time. The list also included three first-time winners: Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Chapman.
The awards, given to the top defensive player at each position across both the National League and the American League, are determined using a formula that accounts for traditional defensive stats and advanced metrics as well as data from the scouting service Inside Edge.
Below is a look at the winner at each position:
Pitcher: Zack Greinke, D-backs (second Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award)
Greinke has been among the game's most reliable pitchers for more than a decade, and he's consistently one of the best at fielding his position, with five consecutive Gold Glove Awards and two Defensive Player of the Year honors. Greinke leads all pitchers in Defensive Runs Saved since 2014, per Fangraphs, with 32, 10 more than second-place Julio Teheran.
Catcher: Mike Zunino, Mariners (first)
Zunino lost out to Salvador Perez for the AL Gold Glove Award, but his defensive prowess didn't go unrewarded, as he earned the Defensive Player of the Year distinction at catcher. The 27-year-old backstop slugged 20 home runs this season and added even more value for the Mariners with his glove and presence behind the plate.
First base: Freddie Freeman, Braves (first)
In his ninth year in the big leagues, Freeman had arguably his best defensive season, earning his first Defensive Player of the Year honor as well as his first Gold Glove Award. Freeman ranked second in the NL with 12 Defensive Runs Saved at first base.
Second base: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (third)
Despite missing time with three trips to the disabled list, LeMahieu had a career-best 18 Defensive Runs Saved this season and earned his third defensive honor. LeMahieu, now a free agent, also led all NL players in SABR's Defensive Index at 19.5.
Third base: Matt Chapman, A's (first)
After a strong rookie campaign, Chapman earned a reputation as one of the game's top defenders in 2018. He not only won his first award at third base, but also was recognized as the overall winner across all positions. Chapman ranked first in the Majors with 29 Defensive Runs Saved and routinely provided highlight reel plays in the A's infield. His Ultimate Zone Rating (10.9), total chances (484) and assists (331) led all MLB third basemen.
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Angels (fifth)
No player has won more Defensive Player of the Year Awards than Simmons, who continued his defensive excellence in his third year in Anaheim and picked up his fifth award in six seasons. Simmons had 21 Defensive Runs Saved, seven more than the second-place shortstop, Francisco Lindor.
Left field: Alex Gordon, Royals (third)
Gordon took home his sixth Gold Glove Award and third Defensive Player of the Year honor this season after leading all left fielders with 18 Defensive Runs Saved. He had nine outfield assists, his most since 2013 (17), and his 91 career assists is tied with Colorado's Gerardo Parra for the most in baseball since '10.
Center field: Kevin Kiermaier, Rays (second)
Kiermaier routinely delivers highlights while patrolling the Rays' outfield, and now he's got some additional hardware to show for it with his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. Kiermaier tied for first in the Majors with a 93 percent catch percentage, three percent above his expected catch rate, per Statcast™.
Right field: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (second)
An AL Most Valuable Player finalist, Betts had a stellar 2018 campaign both at the plate and in right field. He had 20 Defensive Runs Saved and produced 11 Outs Above Average.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.