Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer snubbed in AL Gold Glove finalist selection

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: Joe Mauer
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: Joe Mauer /

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer missed the cut as an AL Gold Glove finalist, representing one of the biggest snubs.

The Minnesota Twins went from 29th in 2016 to fourth last season in team fielding. In fact, they only finished with 78 errors on the season for a .987 fielding percentage. Basically, the huge defensive turnaround helped them become a playoff team after losing over 100 games just one year prior.

Undoubtedly, Byron Buxton led the way for the Twins, playing stellar defense in center field. As matter of fact, he led the MLB in Total Zone Runs with 32, meaning he was worth 32 runs based on plays made in the field. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the high number of diving, wall-crashing catches he made throughout the season. As a result, it also isn’t a surprise that Buxton was named a Gold Glove finalist. In reality, it’d be an absolute travesty if he doesn’t win the award in center.

More from Minnesota Twins

Along with Buxton, Brian Dozier was named a finalist at second base and deservedly so. He led AL second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage and helped turn 109 double plays for a mediocre pitching staff. He’ll be joined by Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia as finalist at second base, but he’s by no means a guarantee to win the award as Buxton should be.

While having two finalist for Minnesota is great, the MLB screwed up big time by not including first baseman Joe Mauer as well. To most, Buxton and Mauer were the two Twins favorites to win Gold Gloves. Instead, Mauer isn’t even in the running for one.

Related Story: An apology to Joe Mauer

In 2017, Mauer had another fantastic year at first base. Although he’s been criticized plenty over the last few seasons, there’s no arguing he’s come into his own in the field after starting his career at catcher. Not to mention, he finally swung the bat well after three poor batting seasons.

Diving deeper into Mauer’s defensive production, he was third in the AL in Defensive Wins Above Replacement and tied for second with a .998 fielding percentage. With only two errors on the season, he was one of the most reliable first basemen in the league. The only thing working against him was the lack of games played compared to other starting first basemen. Nevertheless, he was able to start 118 games at first base, so that’s plenty to justify his status as one of the top fielding first basemen.

Contrary to popular thought though, the MLB announced that Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, and Mitch Moreland would be finalist for the AL Gold Glove at first base. While they are great fielders, Mauer is deserving in place of at least one of them.

For example, let’s take a look at Moreland.

More from Sporting Sota

In comparison, Moreland has a 1.0 Defensive Wins Above Replacement, just a tad higher than the Twins first baseman at 0.7. Yet, he only started eight more games at first base and had five more errors than Mauer for a .995 fielding percentage. Additionally, Mauer had nine more putouts and a higher range factor of 8.73 to Moreland’s 7.73. Overall, the clear edge goes to Mauer, although Moreland benefits from being named the Gold Glove winner last season.

Even so, Moreland is still one of the top fielding first basemen as is Hosmer and Santana. Also, Mauer was no guarantee to win the award anyway. All things considered, I’m not even sure I’d give him the Gold Glove.

Yet, that doesn’t takeaway the fact Mauer should at least be a finalist. When you factor in the Twins made the playoffs largely due to splendid fielding, Mauer’s defensive numbers stand out that much more.

Yes, it’s a deep position. But, when comparing Mauer’s defensive numbers and their impact to the actual finalist, there’s no good argument against the Twins first baseman being a Gold Glove candidate.

Next: Top 5 closer options for the Minnesota Twins!

In the end, Mauer is arguably the biggest snub following the Gold Glove finalist announcements. Hopefully, he rebounds with another great fielding season in 2018 and gives the MLB a chance to right their wrongs next season.