When discussing recent successful Milwaukee Brewers teams, the association with an elite pitching staff often comes to mind. In many of those seasons, though, strong defense has also highly contributed to Brewers wins.
This year was no different. While the Crew had great starting pitching and a back end of the bullpen that was as good as any other team's, their defense in 2023 was outstanding. As a team, they led all of MLB in Outs Above Average with 42 and were second to only the Blue Jays in Defensive Runs Saved with 69.
Having that good of an all-around defense requires a good core defensive philosophy but also usually happens due to some big individual performances. That was also the case for the Brewers as there were few defensive weak spots on the field and multiple standout performances.
So one would think that as the Rawlings announced their Gold Glove finalists on Wednesday that a few Brewers might see their name called. That's where you would be wrong.
Brewers first baseman Carlos Santana was named a Gold Glove finalist, but other strong team defenders were snubbed.
You won't hear many arguments against Carlos Santana being a Gold Glove finalist. He had a reputation as an excellent defender before the Brewers traded for him at the deadline and he kept that up after arriving in Milwaukee as well.
Santana led all qualified first basemen across both leagues in defensive runs saved with 11 and tied for second among the same group in Outs Above Average with three. The league leader in OAA was Christian Walker, who was also a Gold Glove finalist at the position.
While Santana was deservedly named a Gold Glove finalist, there are two other Brewers players who stand out as the biggest snubs from the finalist announcements. Those would be catcher William Contreras and rookie second baseman Brice Turang.
Contreras was another in a long line offensive-first catcher that the Brewers turned around defensively behind the plate. He ended the season among the league leaders in catch framing metrics and DRS and likely should've been a finalist over J.T. Realmuto, who had an uncharacteristically poor season defensively as far as the metrics showed.
Meanwhile, Turang was already a known plus defender in the minors and carried that over into his first season in the majors as he led qualified National League second baseman in DRS with 12 while playing fewer innings than other contenders for the award at the position. Those fewer innings may have been his downfall, though, as they limited his exposure after a midseason demotion to Triple-A.
At least the Brewers get one Gold Glove finalist and we'll see if he brings home the Crew's first such award since 2019 (Lorenzo Cain). Winners will be announced on Sunday, November 5th.