- Daulton Varsho, ARI
- Mookie Betts, LAD
- Juan Soto, WSH/SD
This year, Betts earned $22.9 million on the Dodgers. Soto was paid $17.1 million, between the Nationals and the Padres. Varsho was likely very close to league minimum, considering he will not even be eligible for his first year of arbitration, until the season after next. Betts is a six-time All-Star and won MVP as a member of the Red Sox in 2018. Soto has been an All-Star twice, won the Home Run Derby, was MVP runner-up last season and has a batting title on his mantelpiece. Varsho... exists. He’s probably good to his parents. But, let’s face it, in the court of public opinion, one of these profiles is not like the other. You wonder how many people outside of Arizona even know Daulton’s name.
Yet he did apparently make enough of an impression to make the final three, beating out some considerably higher-profile candidates. It’s all the more impressive, given the relative lack of time Varsho spent there. Here’s how that and the other basic stats stack up across the three candidates:
- Varsho: 71 G, 61 GS, 49 CG, 541.2 IP, 174 Ch, 167 PO, 6 Assists, 1 E, .994 F%
- Betts: 136 G, 133 GS, 119 CG, 1154.1 IP, 308 Ch, 298 PO, 8 Assists, 2 E, .994 F%
- Soto: 151 G, 151 GS, 136 CG, 1298.1 IP, 310 Ch, 304 PO, 3 Assists, 3 E, .990 F%
Varsho made the top three, despite half as much playing time as the other two - though he recorded more outs on a per-inning basis than Betts or Soto. But it’s when you look at the advanced stats that things get interesting, in particular because Soto has been flat out terrible according to them. Not just this year either: since the start of 2020. by Def, the only worse RF has been Nick Castellanos. The outcry over Soto’s nomination this afternoon was immediate, and strong: the Reds’ Aristides Aquino, a similar part-time right-fielder to Varsho, would have been a considerably more logical choice. But things are what they are, so the chart below shows what the deeper metrics think of the three actual candidates.
2022 RF Gold Glove finalists
- RTot = Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average (/yr = scaled to 1,200 innings)
- Rdrs = BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (/yr = scaled to 1,200 innings)
- DRS = The Fielding Bible Defensive Runs Saved
- UZR = Fangraphs Ultimate Zone Rating (/150 = scaled to 150 games)
- Def = Fangraphs Defensive Runs Above Average
- OAA = StatCast Outs Above Average
Varsho, objectively, would seem to have the best numbers. I think we can rule Soto out, as the sabermetric component of the decision will hit him like an asteroid. Though if it’s not going to be Daulton, I kinda want Soto to win, just because of the social media meltdown which would ensue. [Insert WorldBurn.gif here] Realistically though, it probably comes down to Mookie or Daulton. As noted above, the former has the track record and played on one of the most successful NL teams ever. He also had a 136 OPS+. Offense SHOULD not matter, but Soto's presence in this article (and Derek Jeter's four Gold Gloves) would appear to suggest otherwise. You can just about make a case for Betts, if you squint hard enough in the right light, and I have a feeling that's the way coaches will lean.
Let's go to the tape...
I would be delighted to be proven wrong though. Perhaps a factor in Varsho’s favor is his fondness for spectacular plays that might stick in voters' minds. For no outfielder made more "5-star" catches (defined by Baseball Savant as a catch with less than 25% probability) in 2022 than Varsho. His six include both right and center field, but is still impressive, especially given he had only 103 outfield starts. No other NL outfielder made more than four 5* plays: the other finalists, Betts and Soto, didn't manage a single one between them. But purely in regard to right, here's a video showcasing some of his most impressive web gems. Which was your favorite?
Who will win the NL Gold Glove in RF?
This poll is closed
Juan "I want to watch the world burn" Soto