One week ago, Rawlings and Major League Baseball announced the 2022 Gold Glove Award winners, with two members of the New York Yankees, Jose Trevino and DJ LeMahieu, honored for their performance behind the plate and at multiple positions, respectively. At that moment, voting for the annual Platinum Glove Award began.
Awarded for the first time in 2011, the Platinum Glove Award is awarded to the best overall defensive player in each league. It is the only major end-of-season award subject to a fan vote, as Rawlings adds the fan vote to its internal SABR Defensive Index metrics to determine the answer to the question, “Who is the best overall defender in baseball?”
To date, no Yankee defender has ever won a Platinum Glove. To an extent, this isn’t shocking, because although the American League does not have Nolan Arenado and Yadier Molina, who have combined for all but two of the National League’s Awards, the 2011-2021 teams have not exactly been known for their defensive prowess. Although the case could have been made that one of Russell Martin and Brett Gardner deserved the award in 2011, both were ineligible because Matt Wieters and Alex Gordon won their respective Gold Gloves. Because of these snubs, no Yankee with a realistic shot at the award has been eligible for it.
This could be the year that changes. Future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina won four of the first five Platinum Gloves in the National League. In my mind, that’s not an accident. Catcher is the most important defensive position on the diamond, bar none. Not only is it the only person other than the pitcher guaranteed to be involved in every single play, his responsibilities go above and beyond every other player on the field; the catcher is in essence the quarterback of the defense, calling the game. If a catcher stands heads and shoulders above his competition, the award should go to him almost by default.
Enter Jose Trevino. Although he was not on anybody’s radar for a big year back in March, the Yankees catcher shot to stardom this year, largely thanks to his defense. His 21 Defensive Runs Saved tied Cleveland’s Steven Kwan for most in the American League, regardless of position — and he did it in 200 fewer innings. Among catchers, only Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman came close with 18.
Similarly, his framing ability was best in the business. Statcast pegs him at 17 framing runs, five more than second-place Jonathan Heims, while his 53.9 strike percentage was more than two percentage points ahead of Seby Zavala. Meanwhile, his FanGraphs Framing score of 19.0 led the AL by a full 10 points. No matter who you ask, Trevino has been a thief behind the plate, stealing strikes for his pitchers at a higher rate than everybody else, and it’s not particularly close.
Being this much better than the competition at your position has generally been an important prerequisite for the Platinum Glove. Part of the reason that Arenado has consistently won it in the NL is because, until this season, nobody in the NL flashed the leather at the hot corner like him (although Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes may be beginning to change that). To be head and shoulders above everyone else at your position is hard enough to begin with, no matter what position you play — to do it at a defense-first spot such as catcher, where offensive performance is regularly sacrificed for an ability to frame pitches and work with a pitching staff, is on a whole other level.
Because he managed to accomplish this, Jose Trevino ought to make history and become the first Yankee — and just the second catcher — to win the Platinum Glove.