Despite playing in the 2020 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays will not have any Golden Glove Awards winners.
The nominations for this season’s awards were announced Thursday, but Tampa Bay Rays players did not feature in any position. The nominees were announced on the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) website but, shockingly, no Rays players were deemed exceptional enough to feature. The selection process has been done solely by using the SABR Defensive Index (SDI) this year.
According to SABR, “The SDI draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts, including data from MLBAM’s Statcast, Sports Information Solutions, and STATS, LLC.”
It is a staggering snub for the Rays who are playing in their second World Series after winning the ALCS against the Astros who received two nominees in Yuli Gurriel (1B) and Carlos Correa (SS). Also, the Rays had the most wins in the American League and finished at .667.
Some will argue that using data analytics to devise the nominations is fair and most accurate. However, using data does not provide the full picture. Recognition should be more nuanced than cold data. The results are also more open to being skewed due to a smaller data population with a 60-game regular season. There can be more confidence in 162 games of data.
The Rays’ defense has been phenomenal at times this season and was particularly on show in the ALCS matchup with the Astros. Synergy is one of the key reasons why the Rays are in the 2020 World Series, but SDI will not take that into account.
When considering the absentees from the nominations, there are a few Rays players who can consider themselves very unlucky to not be in the mix for an award.
Juan Toribio, beat writer for MLB.com, was quick to make his thoughts known:
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times also chose Kiermaier, a three-time winner, as a noticeable omission:
Understandably, traditional methods of creating the Golden Glove Awards nominees were not applicable in the COVID-19 affected season. However, there is wall-to-wall television coverage of games so coaches and managers could still have their input into the process even if their views were weighted.
If the Rays win the World Series, the incorrect submission of players will be forgotten. However, players such as Kiermaier and Adames should feel snubbed because that is the optics on this list.