Kyle Farmer should be a serious Gold Glove shortstop contender
Most Major League Baseball fans won’t think of Kyle Farmer as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. But given what the Cincinnati Reds infielder has shown this season, it’s tough to ignore Farmer’s elite defensive play.
Farmer, who seems to be making a fabulous play every game, did the same in the eighth inning of last night’s game against the Chicago Cubs. Streaking the outfield, Farmer stole Frank Schwindel a potential base hit with a slippery grab into left center field. It was also a good thing, as next hitter Ian Happ scored to make it a one-point game.
There are better defensive shortstops in the league, and while I’m a huge fan of Kyle Farmer and what he brings to this Reds team, I’m not naive enough for him to win the Gold. Glove at the shortstop. However, the 31-year-old should definitely be in contention.
Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer should be a serious Gold Glove contender.
I’ll try to be as impartial as possible, so let’s look at the numbers, okay? Forget about stats like batting average, wRC +, WAR, etc. We focus strictly on defensive metrics. And while most fans and pundits don’t pay attention to roster percentage as an accurate way to measure a player’s defensive skills, I think it’s still very relevant.
Defensive percentage, in essence, measures a player’s ability to make an appropriate catch or throw, taking into account the number of opportunities a defender has to make a play. Farmer ranks second in the league for the game. roster percentage (0.989) among NL shortstops this season.
The Reds’ shortstop follows only Kevin Newman of the Pittsburgh Pirates (0.992). The main reason for Farmer’s elite level roster percentage is his minuscule number of errors this season. Farmer has only 4 errors on the season, the second in the National League. Of his four mistakes, only one was a field error, which is the best of any shortstop in the league.
Recorded Defensive Runs (DRS) are a popular metric in use these days, and Farmer’s 3 DRS are tied with Trevor Story for seventh place among the NL shortstops. Newman and New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor lead with 6 DRS.
FanGraphs uses a metric called UZR which estimates theoretical runs above or below average. So a player who has a 0 UZR is an average defender at his post. Kyle Farmer ranks fifth among all NL shortstops with 3.2 UZR.
Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer has 7 above average outs (OAA) this season.
Let’s look at another defensive statistic that may be the main one among writers and baseball fans today; comes out above average. With Statcast and Baseball Savant leading an analytical revolution, a player’s OAA is an incredibly valuable way to discern his defensive prowess.
Kyle Farmer has 7 OAAs this season, which places him eighth among all shortstops and fourth among those in the National League. Nick Ahmed leads all NL shortstops with 20 OAAs and Lindor is second with 17 OAAs.
Will Kyle Farmer bring home gear this season? It seems doubtful. While Farmer is among the best in the league in almost every defensive category, there isn’t a single stat where the old backstop leads the way.
Will Farmer be among the top 3 contenders to win the Gold Glove when the awards are announced later this year? Now that is a distant possibility. While fans and writers might not want to admit it, Gold Glove isn’t always about being the best defender in your position, but popularity often plays a role as well.
With top shortstops like Francisco Lindor, Brandon Crawford and Trea Turner among the top defensemen as well, I suspect Kyle Farmer will be away when the Gold Glove Awards are presented this fall.