Nick Castellanos beats Golden Glover

© Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been watching the playoffs, you’ve probably heard at least one announcer call the Houston Fielder the right Kyle Tucker depreciated value. In the first game of the World Series, Tucker did his best to remedy the situation, blasting home runs on his first two hits. On Monday, MLB announced that two years after reaching the Gold Glove final, Tucker had finally won the award. However, he’s not the right player everyone is talking about:

Nick Castellanos Thunder Tucker stole not once but twice, saving Game 1 by slipping, doing an almost identical play on the first pitch of Game 3. As if that wasn’t enough, the World Championships Third place in the conversation On playing on the right field doesn’t belong to Tucker either:

Tucker had to settle for the fourth most popular field game in the series, making him Kyle Schwarber The explosion that fell a foot short of a home appearance Too routine In the eighth game of game 2.

Let’s take a look at the right field players in the World Championships: one with the Golden Glove and one with all the love. Key defensive metrics paint a very clear picture:

2022 Defensive Standards

player DR UZR UZR / 150 OAA RARM an arm
Tucker 13 2.8 4.6 4 1 3.4
Castellanos -9 -7.6 -10.8 -9 -1 -4.4

In each column, Tucker is above average and Castellanos is below average. Castellanos gets a lot of ink in part because he’s the last person anyone would expect to make a shimmering defense. as such Note Mike Petrillo Per, “All four of his best plays of 2022 came since the playoffs began.” You probably know that Castellanos are just in the right field due to injuries Bryce Harper It kept him away from the defining striking spot, but the truth about his defense is really quite stark.

There’s no cute way to say this: Since his debut in 2013, by both the DRS and UZR, Nick Castellanos has been the worst defender in baseball. Since the introduction of Above Average Outs in 2016, only Didi Gregory It was rated worse. By OAA, Castellanos has been either the worst or second-worst right-handed player in baseball in each of the past three years. The worst right-hand man this year was the Gold Glove finalist Juan Soto.

Another factor that caused Castellanos to suddenly catch baseballs with such a fun story is that he told reporters that he gets bad jumps during the regular season because his mind tends to wander when he’s on the field. (Stephanie Epstein Article on this topic Highly recommended for anyone who has questioned Castellanos’ deep thoughts.) Statcast certainly agrees that his leaps leave something to be desired:

2022 Statcast Jump Metrics

player reaction Explosion road ft vs average covered feet percentage
Tucker 0 -0.9 0.2 -0.8 32.3 31
Castellanos -0.2 -1.8 -0.2 -2.2 31.8 6

Source: baseball world

None of the players have high scores by jump metrics, but Castellanos is near the bottom. This is all the more surprising because Castellanos is an above average runner and Tucker is not. Castellanos has a speed of 27.7 feet per second, which puts him at number 58. The five players with jump stats worse than Castellanos are all at least 1.3 feet per second slower than him, which is more than a full standard deviation. Tucker’s sprint velocity in the 31st percentile is at 26.5 feet per second. In fact, Tucker’s running speed is one foot slower than his 2021 mark of 27.4.

This leads to the following graph, which is very interesting. Tucker is a professional Golden Glove player who, judging by the numbers, doesn’t make amazing plays. Here is the OAA for players, calculated by the probability of a catch:

Tucker hasn’t made any five-star plays this season, which didn’t hurt too much because the likelihood of them getting caught is pretty low anyway. Only six players have made more than two five-star games this year. Tucker was right about average on the three- and four-star plays, then almost perfect on the two- and two-star plays. Get nearly all of his defensive value on balls with a ball probability of 75% or higher. This means that Tucker has earned a Golden Glove simply by making all the plays you expect him to make. Last year, when his average running speed was about a full foot per second faster, Tucker played a five-star game and three four-star plays. However, he was not automatic in two-star plays. The score was 4 OAA, the same this year.

It’s also worth noting that Tucker’s chances were generally easier to skew than those of Castellanos. He saw fewer three, four, and five star opportunities, and nearly twice as many one star opportunities. In one category, the sample is as small as six chances, which certainly plays its part in the annual variation in defensive metrics. Castellanos was roughly average in one-star plays, but below average in all other groups.

Breaking things down another way, plays back in time is a big difference between Tucker and Castellanos. The graphic below shows the OAA trend for Tucker (left) and Castellanos (right):

It is clear that Tucker is outperforming Castellanos in returning balls. Over the course of the 2022 season, only one player was better than Tucker’s return, and only two right-field players were worse than Castellanos.

This is one of those cases where an eye test matches up perfectly with advanced scales. Tucker always seems comfortable playing the warning track. The reel below is clearly cherry-picked to emphasize the point, but it does have some stage plays that show the superior Tucker and Castellanos battling over balls that send both of them against the wall:

Even when he’s not in his garden, Tucker always seems to know where the wall is, while Castellanos backs away because he’s unsure. At Baseball Savant, Castellanos made only seven plays where the wall was a factor (one of which is very impressive). He missed playing near the wall with a catch probability of 80% and 90%. Tucker made 12 plays on the wall, including a The leader in the league Three home burglaries. He didn’t miss any plays on the wall whose probability of catching was above 50%.

Both players struggled with hitting balls in and to the right, and both were better at hitting balls in and to the left. In the case of Castellanos, this was the only trend that had a midrange. As it turns out, those World Championship plays shouldn’t surprise anyone. The sliding hold on a sunken liner to his left is his signature move. It didn’t take much research to put together the reel below. It includes seven such plays, including one on a ball hit by Tucker:

Throwing constitutes the final part of the comparison of suitable field players. Please don’t expect any surprises late in the game:

2022 arm gauges

player Max throw average throw percentage RARM an arm helps
Tucker 93.2 89 78 1 3.4 8
Castellanos 92.6 84 44 -1 -4.4 8

Although they scored the same number of passes, Tucker’s arm gained more value. According to The Fielding Bible, with 87 chances of getting ahead of Tucker, opponents took an additional 41 bases, or 47.1%. Castellanos allowed 48 additional bases on 97 chances for 49.5%. Although his hardest throw was 0.6 mph faster, Tucker’s average throw was 5 mph faster, which likely represents the extra respect the runners showed.

As is often the case, Tucker wasn’t the only fit player who had an argument to win the Golden Glove. He was the MLS Player of the Year by the DRS, but UZR ranked seventh in the AL and 14th overall. Fellow finalists Jackie Bradley Jr. And the Max Kepler It is rated higher by the UZR and OAA, respectively. Defensive lead Kyle Isble He would have had great status, but he didn’t play enough roles to qualify. One area where Tucker was head and shoulders above all three of these players was his reliability. He was one of only two players to have had over 1,200 runs in the right field this year.

Whether or not the Golden Glove raises his profile, all indications are that Tucker continues to play hard on the right field. If you need more evidence, just take another look at one of the plays that overshadowed him earlier in the series. He might be under the radar, but he still made the play:

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