After Mookie Betts made spectacular play after spectacular play in the postseason — including two home run robberies and a key catch of a sinking liner in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series — it should come as no surprise that Betts is the National League Gold Glove winner for right field. In his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Betts claimed his fifth consecutive Gold Glove Award after winning four with the Boston Red Sox.
Although postseason play doesn’t factor in to the awards, Betts’ catch of Dansby Swanson’s line drive in the third inning might have saved the game — and the Dodgers’ season. The Braves, up 3-1 in the series, led 2-0 with runners at second and third and one out when Betts made his grab, with Marcell Ozuna then ruled out for leaving third base early. The catch kept the game close, and the Dodgers rallied to win 7-3.
“Unbelievable play by an unbelievable player in a big moment,” teammate Corey Seager said after that game. “That is what you need to win baseball games this time in the year.”
Betts was tied for third among all players with 11 defensive runs saved, tied with Byron Buxton and trailing only Nolan Arenado‘s 15 and Joey Gallo’s 12. Arenado won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove at third base, matching all eight seasons he has played in the majors. Gallo is known for his prodigious home runs, but he earned his first Gold Glove after moving to right field on a full-time basis for the first time in his career.
This year’s Gold Gloves were based on a collection of defensive metrics known as the SABR Defensive Index, which combines several methods of estimating defensive performance statistically. Because of MLB’s regional schedule this season, managers and coaches — usually one part of the final component — did not vote.
Other repeat winners:
In the National League, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (fourth overall) and second baseman Kolten Wong of the Cardinals (second overall) were winners. The Cardinals did not pick up Wong’s $12.5 million team option for 2021, so he takes his Gold Glove into free agency. Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart also won his second Gold Glove after winning in 2017.
Rizzo said earning the honor for the third straight year in the pandemic-shortened season “is something that definitely feels good.”
“I think that with this year and everything that every team had to go through is going to be a growing year for a lot of people, including myself,” Rizzo said on the 10th Rawlings Gold Glove Award show broadcast by ESPN. “So to be able to win a Gold Glove is something I will never, ever take for granted.”
In the American League, Indians catcher Roberto Perez won his second straight, and Royals left fielder Alex Gordon won his fourth in a row and the eighth of his career. Gordon, who announced his retirement in September, becomes the sixth player to win a Gold Glove in his final season, joining pitchers Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Bobby Shantz, outfielder Roberto Clemente and first baseman Wes Parker. Gordon finishes his career as one of the greatest defensive left fielders of all time. Based on total zone fielding runs, an estimated defensive measurement that goes back to 1953, Gordon trails only Barry Bonds and Carl Yastrzemski in career runs saved.
“This is kind of the perfect retirement present to get walking out,” Gordon said on ESPN, adding that winning eight Gold Gloves is something he couldn’t have anticipated, but he feels “very fortunate that it happened.”
White Sox center fielder Luis Robert beat Buxton, and Mariners first baseman Evan White edged two-time winner Matt Olson, with the pair becoming the first rookie winners since Arenado won in 2013. Cubs shortstop Javier Baez, known for his fielding wizardry, struggled at the plate in 2020 but won his first Gold Glove, beating Swanson, who led all shortstops in DRS.
Gordon, Indians second baseman Cesar Hernandez, White and Wong earned $18,519 bonuses, prorated portions of $50,000. Arenado and Robert earned $9,259, prorated portions of $25,000, and St. Louis left fielder Tyler O’Neill earned $3,704, a prorated portion of $10,000.
Perez’s 2021 salary escalated by $250,000 to $5.75 million, and Barnhart’s by $250,000 to $4 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.