Major League Baseball has announced its Rawlings Gold Glove winners for overall fielding excellence following the 2023 season.
Leading the way was the Toronto Blue Jays with three winners, which tied the World Series champion Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs for the most winners from one team.
Of the 18 players selected, 13 were first-time winners, which is the second-most since the award’s conception in 1957—the 2023 season also marked the fourth straight year with 10+ first-time winners.
Five Blue Jays were announced as finalists, while three were selected as winners. Catcher Alejandro Kirk and fielder Daulton Varsho did not get the nod. At the same time, third baseman Matt Chapman, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and pitcher Jose Berrios were awarded for their accomplishments in the field.
Varsho was by far the biggest snub, who led all of Major League Baseball with 29 defensive runs saved. The seven players finishing immediately below him each went on to win Gold Gloves this season.
Unfortunately, a technicality within the rules of the award prevented the Toronto outfielder from taking home the recognition.
According to official wording, players with “at least 698 total innings played qualify at the specific position where he played the most innings”. Meaning because he played 817 innings in left field, as opposed to the 462 innings in centre field, Varsho entered the pool out of left.
Daulton Varsho more than halfway thru the first Gold Glove winning season of his career.
His 16 defensive runs saved rank 2nd among all Major League Baseball players.
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) July 10, 2023
Varsho split time between left field and centre field in 2023, saving 11 runs in left field and 18 in centre field. 11 defensive runs saved in left wasn’t quite as high as the eventual winner, Steven Kwan of Cleveland. While his 18 runs saved in centre field tied teammate Kiermaier, who did walk away with the award. His combined runs saved was a whopping 29.
“The fact you can lead in defensive runs saved and not win a gold glove is pure stupidity only baseball can pull off,” Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt posted on Twitter following the announcement.
The fact you can lead in defensive runs saved and not win a gold glove is pure stupidity only baseball can pull off. pic.twitter.com/wOVi4g3ENb
— Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419) November 6, 2023
But on the other hand, the Blue Jays did have three winners on their team.
Chapman played another sensational season defensively, joining Kelly Gruber as the only Blue Jays third baseman to ever get the nod. He led the AL’s third basemen with 12 defensive runs saved while putting up 17 home runs, 54 RBIs, and a .240 batting average on the year.
Kiermaier earned his first Gold Glove since 2019, and tied teammate Varsho with 18 defensive runs saved in centre field, while tying for the league lead with 13 outs above average. The 33-year-old is the fifth Blue Jay to earn the recognition (Vernon Wells (2004-06), Shawn Green (1999), Devon White (1991-95) and Jesse Barfield (1986-87)).
Berrios one-upped his ‘finalist’ nod from last season, beating Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez this year. The 29-year-old had five total defensive runs saved, while leading all AL starting pitchers in infield assists (26). He is now the third Blue Jays pitcher to earn the award (Marcus Stroman (2017) and R.A. Dickey (2013).
All players selected were given a cheque for $50K, including Arizona Diamondbacks catcher and former Blue Jays prospect Gabe Moreno, who took the National League Gold Glove for the back-catching position.