Mets RHP Bartolo Colon has a Cy Young Award in his trophy case, and while he won't be adding a Silver Slugger to his collection any time soon, he's lined up to snag his first Gold Glove award this season.
Colon may not look the part of the defensive wiz, but he has established himself as one of the most consistent and effective fielders at his position by any number of measures that appeal to award voters. On the traditional side, he controls the running game as well as anyone. His four pickoffs rank second in the league and he has the lowest steal rate on his team. He is quick off the mound and sure-handed, as evidenced by his 36 assists and 5 double plays started, both second in the league.
For the more sabermetrically inclined, Colon's seven defensive runs saved are tops in all of baseball, per Fangraphs.com. He also has two stolen base runs saved, second in the National League, which suggests the traditional measures previously mentioned are no fluke.
According to BaseballReference.com, his range factor per nine innings is third among qualifiers, which bolsters the case that he gets to - and handles - batted balls as well as anyone.
These are all skills that are highly valuable for any pitcher, but for a pitcher with Colon's profile, age and size, his fielding is vital to his ability to pitch effectively. Low strikeout and walk rates result in a large number of balls in play (he is second behind Johnny Cueto, but with fewer innings). Helped out by his good defense, his batting average on balls in play is well below league average, despite the fact that he is not especially good at limiting hard contact.
For those voters who balk at both traditional statistics and sabermetrics, is there any better story than a soft-tossing, 43-year-old pitcher, generously listed at 285 pounds, being named the best defender in the league?
Colon's outstanding work ethic is recognized throughout the league - by both media and the industry - and the best way to reward his efforts by filling out his trophy case with a well-earned Gold Glove.