By most traditional measures, the Royals are an above average defensive team. They finished the regular season with 88 errors, six fewer than the league average. Fielding percentage was slightly above the league standard.
The Royals allowed 3.96 runs per game, which ranked toward the best of baseball, and their defensive efficiency, a formula that measures the percentage of balls put in play that turn into outs, is among the game’s leaders.
In the postseason, the Royals have made two errors in 13 games entering tonight’s World Series Game 3 against the New York Mets.
Also, they pass Ben Zobrist’s eye test.
“I played with some great defenses in Tampa Bay,” Zobrist said. “This is right up there for sure.”
So, no surprise that four Royals were announced as Rawlings Gold Glove finalists on Thursday. No American League team had more.
The surprise was that center fielder Lorenzo Cain wasn’t among the finalists.
Teammates Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escboar were selected as one of three finalists at their positions. Perez, Hosmer and Gordon are multi-Gold Glove winners.
Cain also doesn’t possess a Gold Glove and many believed his speed and grace would be recognized this year.
But the American League center-field finalists are the Angels’ Mike Trout, Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays and Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays.
“Come out here and win a World Series ring, it will trump that Gold Glove,” Cain said. “I’m not really worried about it. I definitely feel like I played well enough the last few years, but if they don’t pick, so I just move on and focus on winning this World Series.”
Cain ranked among baseball leaders in putouts and range factor, but his 10 errors also were the most by an outfielder in baseball.
It was believed Cain’s chances of winning a Gold Glove would be helped by playing the entire season in center field. Last season, Cain opened games in center but was often moved to right field in late innings as the Royals solidified their defense.
Manager Ned Yost thought Cain had a shot.
“He definitely should be in,” Yost said. “I don’t know how he can’t be. Yeah, that’s hard for me to believe he’s not in the top three.”
But four others are.
Although he missed nearly two months because of a groin injury, Gordon is a finalist for his fifth straight Gold Glove, along with a World Series rival. The Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes is a finalist, having spent 102 games with the Tigers this season. The other finalist is the Yankees’ Brett Gardner.
Hosmer and Perez have each won two Gold Gloves. The other first basemen in the running: Mike Napoli of the Rangers and the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira. Perez is a finalist with the Astros’ Jason Castro and the Blue Jays’ Russell Martin.
Escobar is bidding for his first Gold Glove with finalists Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox and the Yankees’ Didi Gregorius.
And Escobar isn’t slow about expressing his desire for the hardware, which will be presented after the World Series.
“Right now, I’m thinking I want to win the Gold Glove, it’s one of my dreams,” Escobar said. “I know I play good defense, I don’t have a Gold Glove, I want to win the Gold Glove this year.”