Phillies defense improving, led by trio of Gold Glove Award candidates

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No Phillies player has won a Gold Glove since 2012

The Philadelphia Phillies are currently one of the most inconsistent contending teams in Major League Baseball.

The biggest problem for the team in getting on a long winning run has been consistently poor pitching from both the starters and the bullpen group.
Offensively, they are a middle of the pack team, with the Phillies run production having fluctuated wildly all year long. The club’s hitters are collectively tied for 15th among the 30 MLB teams with 4.81 runs scored per game.
The one area of the game at which the Phillies have been solid this year is on defense. The gloves are currently tied for sixth in the NL in fielding percentage, having committed 55 errors, tied for fifth-lowest in the league.
The SABR Defensive Index of individual player performances was released through games of July 7, just about 10 days ago. For the seventh consecutive season in 2019, the SDI will be used to help select the winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. The SDI accounts for approximately 25% of the Gold Glove selection process, added to votes from the managers and coaches.
Based on the SDI as of July 7, the Phillies have three players who are legitimate National League Gold Glove Award contenders. Those three are right fielder Bryce Harper, catcher J.T. Realmuto, and perhaps surprisingly to some, left fielder Jay Bruce.
All three of those Phillies players are ranked second by the SDI at their positions. Harper’s 3.7 mark trails well behind the 7.6 of Dodgers right fielder Cody Bellinger and his 7.6 SDI rating. In left field, Bruce’s 4.4 is right behind the 4.7 of positional leader David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

J.T. Realmuto might be the best chance for a Phillies player to actually win a Gold Glove Award in 2019. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)
Realmuto, the one Phillies representative on this year’s NL All-Star team, has an 8.5 SDI. That is the third-highest mark in the entire National League among all players. Unfortunately, one of the two ahead of him is San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges and his 9.1 mark.
Aside from those three, the rest of the Phillies defenders do not fare as well. Shortstop Jean Segura has a positive mark of 0.8, which places him at 8th among the 17 players rated. Maikel Franco has a -1.3 rating, putting him at 13th of the 19 third basemen rated.
At second base, Cesar Hernandez has a -1.2 rating, putting him 14th of 16 ranked players at the keystone position in the National League. Out in center field where Scott Kingery is played out of position on most days, the club’s future second baseman carries a -1.3 rating, putting him at 13 of 18 ranked players.
On the mound, Aaron Nola‘s 1.2 and Jake Arrieta‘s 0.6 make them the only Phillies pitchers in positive territory. They rank as tied for 11th (Nola) and 19th (Arrieta) respectively. Nick Pivetta has a -0.3 rating and Zach Eflin a -0.5 as the only other two Phillies pitchers on the NL list.
With these pure stats only accounting for one-quarter of the vote, reputation among players and coaches continues to provide the largest influence in the actual final selection of the Gold Glove Award winners.
Considering that key factor, Realmuto, widely considered the top all-around defensive catcher in the game by many, has the best chance to actually take home hardware after the season ends. None of the three leading Phillies contenders has ever captured a Gold Glove Award.

The last Phillies player to be awarded a Gold Glove was Jimmy Rollins, who took home the honors at shortstop back in 2012. It was a fourth career NL Gold Glove for JRoll, who previously was honored for three straight years from 2007-09. Mike Schmidt (10) and Garry Maddox (8) have won the most Gold Glove Awards in club history.

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