Many of the season-ending awards have fields that are very tough to nail down and even after you nail down a good field of candidates, it's next to impossible to differentiate between a list of very good players. Many of you would weigh the importance of certain offensive statistics vs. a stronger overall game including defensive metrics. The MVP race, as an example, would call into a question whether a player's team was good versus how good a player on a bad team was. The Rookie of the Year race, while a bit more clear cut, still had a lot of strong candidates with their own virtues.
...and then there is the honor of Atlanta Braves' Defensive Player of the Year
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking. There is literally only one sane pick for such an honor (as painful as it may be to know that this will be the last time we can bestow unto him such an honor). However, in the interest of fairness, I painstakingly compiled a field of other worthy candidates from the Braves 2015 roster in the hopes of truly putting existing predispositions to the test. Without further adieu, I present, for your consideration, the nominees for the Atlanta Braves' Defensive Player of the Year.
I know what you are thinking...Jonny Gomes? The same Jonny Gomes who was good for -7 defensive runs saved last season (-66 for his career)? Unfortunately, defensive metrics have yet to fully incorporate factors such as grit, putting fear into the heart of your opponents with an icy stare, or having a magnificent beard. I will give you that his play in left and right field wasn't always pretty, but he did get the job done from time to time.
Plus, the dude was a two-way player with a devastating 68 MPH....changeup?
Our clinic in defensive excellence continues with the work of Chris Johnson out at the hot corner. Granted, most of the good work at third base when CJ was on the field involved Andrelton Simmons getting to balls out of Johnson's reach (his reach is roughly 1.5 feet in either direction depending on the weather). However, he MADE those plays happen. Sure, his 2.5 seasons with the Braves resulted in -21 defensive runs saved (including a -2 mark for 2015) and other defensive marks that are not for the feint of heart, but the guy hustled....sorta
I know this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but Jace does have a real chance to be a good defensive second baseman. For the first few months of the season, is was ranked among the better ones in the league before he, like the rest of the Braves, fell off in the second half. He ended the 2015 season in the middle of the pack amongst qualified second basemen in several metrics despite putting up a mark of -1 defensive runs saved on the year. At the end of the day, he is still a very young player who has shown at times to be a difference-maker defensively and should improve as he gets more time at the major league level.
A dark horse pick to be sure, Eury doesn't fit the profile of a defensive player of the year. He doesn't save runs defensively (0 in 2015), have good range (-5.5 RngR, -3.6 UZR), nor does he have a stand out tool in the field. However, he did have a couple sweet assists from the outfield and he also had the gumption to try the ultimate Jedi mind trick after coming up short on a diving grab (his second of the inning).
So....here's the thing. Andrelton is really good. The only defensive accolades he DIDN'T win in 2015 was the Gold Glove and I'm just going to chalk that up to computer error. 25 defensive runs saved and basically at or near the top of every list of defensive metrics among shortstops and really all players MLB wide. There are varying opinions (its possible that Angels fans hate the trade as much as Braves fans do) regarding who "won" the trade that sent Andrelton to the Angels. There is, however, no doubt that they received a really special defensive player that has been a joy for us Braves fans to watch. Below are some Andrelton highlights from 2015 and before. Enjoy them...and you know what to do in the voting part.
As always, there will be a "Someone else" option in the poll below. If you vote that way, please let us know who you voted for in the comments and happy voting!