Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman Christian Walker was named a Gold Glove finalist. Walker will look to defend his Gold Glove title and win his second of the award this off-season. But based on any and all defensive statistics, Walker shouldn’t only win the Gold Glove, he should have it on lockdown.
Walker has been one of the best corner infield defenders in the game now since his first full season with the D-Backs in 2019, and 2023 was no exception. Walker logged 1309.1 innings at first base, racking up +9 defensive runs saved and +12 outs above average. It is the third time he has hit the positive double-digit mark in OAA. UZR/150 also viewed him as a good defensive first baseman at +2.6.
Even more traditional statistics say that Walker is an outstanding defensive first baseman. He only committed two errors at first base with a fielding percentage of .998. No first baseman has committed zero errors over 1000+ innings over the last five seasons, meaning Walker has the second-highest fielding percentage among first basemen since 2018.
Walker should be the unanimous winner of the award. Walker may have ranked second in defensive runs saved among National League first basemen, but he only trailed Pirates/Brewers’ Carlos Santana by two runs. However, no player was even in the same zip code as Walker in outs above average. He wasn’t just the only player to reach double-digits, but the only NL 1B to have at least five OAA. The second highest was Garrett Cooper at +4.
A look at the other Gold Glove finalists makes Walker look even better. Sure, Santana has a strong DRS mark, but he’s not in the same stratosphere as Walker in OAA at +3. He also has a negative UZR/150 at -1.2. LA Dodgers’ superstar Freddie Freeman has always been a solid defender, and while he leads the NL in UZR/150 at +3.3, he also has -9 DRS and just +3 OAA.
Walker has set the gold standard of what a great defensive first baseman should be. There’s pretty much nothing that suggests that either of the other Gold Glove finalists deserves the award over Walker. While there have been Gold Glove robberies throughout the award’s history, I don’t believe that will happen here. Walker has already won a GG and should defend his title once again.