As soon as he was called up, almost two months into the season, Patrick Bailey showed why evaluators expect him to one day fill his mantle with Gold Glove Award trophies. He turned balls into strikes, nabbed about as many would-be base stealers as he had arm angles and even ended a game with his arm — not once, but twice.
It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that Bailey, with only 28 games above A-ball under his belt, was already among the game’s elite defenders.
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old rookie was announced as one of three finalists for the National League Gold Glove. His competition for the award, the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto and Diamondbacks’ Gabriel Moreno, another rookie, are currently facing off in the NLCS.
If Bailey wins — results will be announced Nov. 5 — it would be historic. No Giants rookie at any position has ever won the Gold Glove, and it has been awarded to only two NL rookie catchers, Johnny Bench in 1968 and, most recently, Charles Johnson in 1995, four years before Bailey was born.
The last Giants catcher to take home the award, of course, was Buster Posey in 2016, while Brandon Crawford last won at shortstop in 2021.
Despite debuting on May 19, in the Giants’ 44th game of the season, Bailey finished the season at or near the top of nearly every defensive leaderboard.
He led the league in catcher framing runs (+16) and strike rate (52.9%). His 3.69 catcher’s ERA was second only to Milwaukee’s Willam Contreras. Only Moreno and Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk accumulated more Defensive Runs Saved (+13). He trailed only Realmuto in pop time, using his 1.87 average in combination with his ability to throw from any position to catch 25 of 62 attempted base stealers, a 28% success rate nearly 10 percentage points above league average (19%) that made him the first NL rookie in five years to throw out at least 20 runners.
Elsewhere on the diamond, Thairo Estrada graded out well at second base by many of the same advanced metrics, but he wasn’t rewarded.
Estrada led all second baseman in Outs Above Average, as well as FanGraphs’ defensive value metric. However, he was left out from the group of finalists, consisting of the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner (an East Bay native), the Padres’ Ha-Seong Kim and the Phillies’ Bryson Stott.