The Atlanta Braves were not exactly an outstanding defensive unit during the 2016 season, but in the midst of a generally ugly performance in that area, outfielder Ender Inciarte was a tremendous bright spot. The team’s starting center fielder was recognized as such on Thursday afternoon, as the good folks at Rawlings named Inciarte as a finalist for a 2016 Gold Glove award.
While the Gold Gloves have justifiably come under fire in recent years for some sketchy distinctions (just ask Andrelton Simmons), this is a nice honor for a player that certainly earned it. Inciarte finished in a tie for third among National League in outfielders in defensive runs saved (15) and second in both FanGraphs’ all-encompassing defensive metric and UZR (13.4), trailing only old friend Jason Heyward.
In addition, Inciarte ranked as one of the ten best defensive players in the National League according to Baseball-Reference’s defensive WAR (1.7) and that was good enough to place the 25-year-old outfielder in second place among qualified outfielders. It remains to be seen as to whether Inciarte will actually be the recipient of the ultimate honor but, at the very least, he is recognized as one of the three best defensive center fielders in the NL for 2016.