Last year Jackie Bradley Jr. was robbed of the gold glove. The award was given to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. While Kiermaier is a very good center fielder, and makes numerous diving and highlight reel catches. Jackie Bradley is far and away the best center fielder in this division, if not the game.
The voters love Kiermaier because of his penchant for making hard plays look even harder by diving. Kiermaier does get to everything, but he would not have to dive for a lot of the balls that he catchs if he didn’t take a poor route to the ball. Kiermaier always seems to take a step in as the ball is hit to him, and then has to use his blazing speed to recover, which often times leads to a dive or a slide to even make the catch.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is the best center fielder in this division, because he rarely dives. He rarely dives because his route to the ball is so fluid. It often seems that Jackie Bradley Jr. has studied and knows the layout of every single inch of every single ball park that he plays in. Bradley loses points in the voting for the Gold Glove because he makes every play look almost routine. Bradley being so fluid and making almost every play is hurting his race for the gold glove.
The MLB award voters like flashy players, who do flashy things. They are not concerned with who takes the best routes to the ball, or how routine and easy the player makes the plays. They are concerned with highlight reel catches. Kiermaier knows this and that is why he is not afraid to take a worse route to the ball, since he knows with his speed he will still get to the ball anyway, but he may just have to dive for the ball, which increases the degree of difficulty.
Fans who get to watch Jackie Bradley Jr. everyday know what he brings to the table in the outfield, he covers so much ground. He has a penchant for robbing homeruns and showing off his cannon attached to his shoulder. Some of the throws that Jackie Bradley can make, should have enough merit to earn him the gold glove.
The recent series with the Orioles has solidified the position that Jackie is the best center fielder in the MLB. The home run he robbed from Chris Davis is a harder degree of difficulty play than the earlier home runs he has robbed. He had to run into the right center field power alley, and catch a line drive that was tailing away from him, that is a very hard catch to make, so Jackie nonchalantly ran to the ball and caught the ball while jumping over the wall. Then later on in the game Pedro Alvarez of the Orioles hit a ball to center field which split the gap. Jackie picked the ball up and fired a strike to second to get Pedro Alvarez at second base. The play looked closer than it was. Jackie also threw that ball from the base of the wall.
Unfortunately, Kiermaier probably has another gold glove in his future for this year. If Bradley keeps making plays as routinely as he does, and keeps up the defensive runs saved numbers that he has, his gold gloves will come as well. The great debate is on, who is the better center fielder?