The results are in, and they’re as unanimous as possible: Matt Chapman was the best defensive player in the majors in 2018. The Oakland A’s third baseman won the AL Platinum Glove award on Friday, completing a clean sweep of every major fielding honor that exists in baseball.
The Platinum Glove is an offshoot of the Gold Glove awards, administered by sports equipment company Rawlings since 2011. It is decided entirely by a fan vote, with the general public picking between that year’s nine Gold Glove winners in each league to determine the top overall fielder in the AL and NL. Past winners in the American League include a couple of other third basemen:
2011: Adrian Beltre, TEX (3B)
2012: Adrian Beltre, TEX (3B)
2013: Manny Machado, BAL (3B)
2014: Alex Gordon, KC (LF)
2015: Kevin Kiermaier, TB (CF)
2016: Francisco Lindor, CLE (SS)
2017: Byron Buxton, MIN (CF)
2018: Matt Chapman, OAK (3B)
Awards season has been busy for Chapman. In addition to his Gold Glove, he also won the Fielding Bible award as the best 3B in the majors, and last week he was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year as the overall top fielder in all of MLB. Now he’s added platinum to his resume.
As an extra bonus, the NL Platinum Glove went to fellow 3B Nolan Arenado of the Rockies for the second straight year. Famously, Arenado and Chapman were teammates in high school, making it all the more incredible that they’ve both reached such lofty heights on the sport’s biggest stage. It’s the first time that both platinum winners played the same position in a given year, but that record pales in comparison to it being the first time two players from the same high school won together.
More importantly for A’s fans, though, this cements Chapman’s status as baseball’s best defender beyond any shadow of a doubt. He’s unquestionably the best 3B in the AL, and now he’s twice been named the best overall fielder in the AL. His main competition in the NL at any position is Arenado, but Chappy has won that battle both times they’ve faced off — via Wilson, and the Fielding Bible. He’s nabbed every piece of hardware available, and no one has finished ahead of him in anything, multiple times over. The universe has spoken, loud and clear.
Perhaps the best illustration of this consensus is the process behind each of these awards. The Gold Glove is voted on by managers and coaches (the old school), whereas the Fielding Bible is determined by a panel of many of the top sabermetric minds in the industry (new school). Wilson decides its awards based purely on objective statistics, completely stripping out confounding factors like reputation and name power, while the Platinum Glove fan vote is entirely a subjective popularity contest. In every method, Chapman got the nod.
Congrats to Chapman on yet another major award! It was a privilege to watch his electric glovework all season, from his range to his reflexes to his unreal throwing arm, and we can’t wait to enjoy it all again next summer.