CLEVELAND — The Guardians' defense was "good as gold" all season long, and now they have the hardware to prove it.
Pitcher Shane Bieber, second baseman Andrés Giménez, left fielder Steven Kwan, and center fielder Myles Straw were all named Gold Glove Award winners Tuesday as the best defenders at their respective positions in the American League. It's the most Gold Gloves earned in any single season in franchise history, and Bieber also becomes the first Cleveland pitcher to take home the honor.
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On a team without a lot of power or veteran leadership, the Guards needed to play sound fundamental baseball in order to have success. They did that (and then some) in the field, finishing third in all of baseball with 79 defensive runs saved.
All of their Gold Glove winners did so for the first time in their big league tenures. The rookie Kwan led the way with 21 DRS and a 2.04 range factor per nine innings in left field, and also finished No. 1 among all AL players with 16 total zone runs overall. Straw added 17 DRS, along with a stellar .995 fielding percentage in center.
Giménez found himself in a unique spot, playing second despite being a shortstop by trade with Amed Rosario also in the lineup. However, the 24-year-old met the challenge head-on, leading all AL second basemen with eight total zone runs and a range factor of 4.55 per nine innings. At the plate, he also hit .297 with 17 homers and 20 steals on his way to his first-career All-Star selection.
And then there's Bieber, who plays in a spot where fielding is often an afterthought. But among all AL pitchers, his range factor per nine innings of 1.41 was second-best, and he also saved an impressive three defensive runs. If he were an everyday player, that latter number would average out to about 15, putting him on par with more noticeable defensive wizards like Kwan and Straw.
José Ramírez was also a finalist at third base, but lost out to Ramón Urías of the Baltimore Orioles. However, the four-time All-Star is also a finalist for the AL Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron Awards, and could factor into the MVP discussion as well. Giménez is also a Silver Slugger nominee at second base.
Last week, Kwan and Straw were also honored with the more analytics-based Fielding Bible Awards at their outfield spots. Additionally, club President Chris Antonetti earned the Sporting News Executive of the Year Award as the best front office leader in the game.