The Gold Glove is not always the best measure of fielding excellence. Rafael Palmeiro won for first base in a year in which he played only 28 games there. Kiermaier’s win of the 2015 Gold Glove was far from a fluke. He was one of the finest centerfielders in the entire major leagues. Of his 7.3 WAR on the season, five of that total was just on the defensive side of the ball. Kiermaier was second to Mike Trout in most putouts by a centerfielder in the American League. He does not yet have Trout’s penchant for over the wall highlight reel catches but he still makes his share of diving grabs. Kiermaier’s defensive performance was so strong that his Gold Glove win ended Jones three year run of wins, a difficult thing to do for an award that can tend to go repeatedly to one player.
The On-base percentage statistic is not a strong area for Kiermaier, as he only drew 24 walks on the season in 535 plate appearances. Despite a .263 batting average, his OBP was just .298. With a slugging percentage of .420, this equaled just a .718 OPS which is less than league average (OPS+ 97). Clearly the man can run once he reaches the bases, stealing 18 bases as well as legging out 12 triples on the season. This is part of the reason for his defensive prowess. He just runs so many balls down in the outfield that other players can’t get to.
The most remarkable thing about Kiermaier is that he was not selected until the 31st round of the 2010 draft. It is unusual to see someone who was drafted that low make it to the major leagues. One has to admire the drive of a player that can overcome such long odds to make it to the majors. What is even more surprising is the success he has had coming that far to the majors, to win a Gold Glove, not just make it as a marginal player. Turning 26 this season, Red Sox fans should be seeing Kiermaier for years to come speeding around the bases and making highlight show catches in the outfield.
Next: 5. Kevin Pillar