Was Daulton Varsho robbed of a Gold Glove that was rightfully his?
The Blue Jays left fielder certainly built a case for the season-ending honour with his superb defensive play during his first year in Toronto as he was a valued addition in the significantly improved the Toronto defence.
But after being snubbed of the Glove, shortly after the awards were announced on Sunday night one of his veteran teammates weighed in on the matter, doing so rather vociferously on social media.
“The fact you can lead in defensive runs saved and not win a Gold Glove is pure stupidity only baseball can pull off,” starter Chris Bassitt posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Bassitt would not be alone in that view, given the immediate impact the new guy made at the corner outfield spot, a significant defensive upgrade in left on Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who accompanied catcher Gabriel Moreno to Arizona in the trade that brought Varsho to the Jays.
And he’s probably not wrong.
In the defensive runs saved statistical category, Varsho led all MLB players with 29, a testament to his speed, range and arm in the outfield. Combined with Kevin Kiermaier, who roamed centre field and captured the American League Gold Glove at his position, and George Springer in right, the Jays outfield defence was stellar throughout the 89-win season
Taking into account range, outfield arm and double-play ability, DRS quantifies a player’s entire defensive performance by hypothetically measuring how many runs he saved. In other words, it is a stat seemingly built for Varsho’s skill set.
A finalist in his category, Varsho lost to Steven Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians, a repeat winner at the position. Reflective of the team’s significantly improved defence, three Jays were named positional winners on Sunday: Kiermaier, third baseman Matt Chapman and starting pitcher Jose Berrios. As well, both Varsho and catcher Alejandro Kirk were finalists.
To Bassitt’s point about the defensive runs saved measurable and how it applied to Varsho , Kwan finished tied for 11th in defensive runs saved among position players with 16.
So what conspired against Varsho in the voting? Perhaps it was that he spent too much time spelling Kiermaier in centre that it watered down his influence at the corner spot. The 27-year-old logged 817.2 innings over 117 games in left but played in 63 games for 462.1 innings in centre where he made many off his more spectacular plays.
Still, Varsho’s play in left field spoke for itself s well, a fact not lost on Bassitt and no doubt shared by many of his other teammates. The Jays starter had more to say in response to an X post from the popular Talkin’ Baseball account asking who was the biggest Gold Glove snub?
“Varsho and it’s not even close,” Bassitt responded.
The potential good news for Varsho’s pursuit of individual awards? With Kiermaier a free agent and unlikely to return to the Jays, Varsho would be the natural to shift to centre where he can flash his skills at the most important outfield position for a full season.