Cubs tout three for Gold Gloves
MILWAUKEE -- Ballots for Gold Gloves went out to major-league managers and coaches this week, and the Cubs aren't at all defensive about their defense.
Second baseman Darwin Barney won his first Gold Glove last season, and this year, the team is touting Barney along with catcher Welington Castillo and first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Although shortstop Starlin Castro probably won't get a lot of glove love from the voters, the Cubs point out he made only 4 errors in his last 72 games before he made a throwing error against the Brewers on Monday night.
"Barney is the obvious choice," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Rizzo's had a heck of a year. Welly's had a great year. Castro's last few months have been pretty good. So we've got some candidates and very strong candidates. Unfortunately, obviously we know what gets involved in that. Barney's done nothing to give his away, that's for sure."
Sveum was talking about players' offensive number factoring into Gold Glove consideration, even though it's not supposed to count.
Cubs candidates have solid numbers, both in the traditional stats such as errors and fielding percentage as well as in so-called advanced or sabermetrics stats, such as ultimate zone rating and defensive wins above replacement (dWAR). A sabermetrics component has been added to the information voters get this year.
Barney and the Dodgers' Mark Ellis lead NL second basemen in dWAR (1.4). Barney entered Monday having made just 4 errors, the fewest among the contenders, and he led the NL in fielding percentage (.993).
"I'm not sure what the possibility is," he said. "I think I have performed at a high level defensively. I think I've done pretty much what it takes to win a Gold Glove, at least against my peers. But that doesn't mean I deserve it. It doesn't mean that I'm going to win.
"Either way. Whether I win the Gold Glove or not, I'd still be happy with my performance defensively this season. I still think I can get better and be more efficient and work on the mistakes I made this year."
Barney's steady play last year unseated incumbent Brandon Phillips of the Reds. In addition to Barney's fielding prowess, consistency is another hallmark.
"You want to make every play," he said. "I feel I make some tough plays that I make look too easy almost, to where sometimes I joke with some of my teammates that, 'I should have jumped after I threw that or rolled over' or done something to get on SportsCenter.
"There have been a couple plays this year that have been some of the best plays I've made in a long time that no one really thinks twice about because I didn't fall over or do something like that. That's not part of my game."
Rizzo led all first baseman in dWAR (0.6) and was second in the NL with a .996 fielding percentage.
Castillo has jumped to the fore in his first full season as a starter. His 2.5 dWAR leads all major-league catchers even as he progresses in other areas.
"It's his first time he's been the guy," Sveum said. "He's caught not every day, but he's obviously our No. 1 catcher. His season's gradually gotten better and better and better, the calling pitches, the game plans, sticking to that."