Five Cardinals win 2021 NL Gold Glove Awards

Through the roller coaster of their 2021 season, the Cardinals have trusted their defense as their most stable force. It turned out that their defense was historically unmatched.

For Bader and Edman, this award is the first of their careers. For others, it’s a complement to already sensational defensive resumes. Arenado won his ninth in a row, O’Neill his second in a row and Goldschmidt his first since 2017 and fourth overall.

Only wide receiver Yadier Molina – winner of nine Golden Gloves – finished runner-up for the Cardinals but did not win, trailing the Pirates’ Jacob Stallings, who has led NL backstops in defensive runs saved this year . Molina will have one more chance of hitting double digits in 2022, which is expected to be his last season.

The five Cardinals winners have taken Golden Gloves paths of varying meanings:

Central defender Harrison Bader
First Golden Glove
Bader proclaimed it in Spring Training — “I want one. I want one more than anything” — and put the truth to his words in the months that followed.

Leading the Majors in four-star catches, per Statcast, and topping NL outfielders in ultimate zone rankings (11.4) and ranking second in defensive runs saved (15), the flashy Bader captured what seemed like a long-deserved recognition. He was a runner-up in 2019 but put together a full resume en route to picking up his first award in 21.

Bader is the first Cardinals center back to win a Gold Glove since one of his mentors, Jim Edmonds, won it in 2005.

Second Baseman Tommy Edman
First Golden Glove
The student has become the master.

Years behind Kolten Wong in the Cardinals system, which included spending the offseason together working the grounds at St. Louis University, paid off for Edman. The former utility found a home at second base this season, led the Majors with above-average strikeouts at position (13), and ended Wong’s reign of two consecutive Golden Gloves (both in as cardinal).

Additionally, Edman had only played 37 Major League games at No. 2 prior to this season. Only four players in AL/NL history (excluding rookies and pitchers) played fewer games at their position at the start of the season they won the Gold Glove, according to the Elias Sports Bureau .

Third baseman Nolan Arenado
Ninth Golden Glove
The first offensive season of the Arenado Cardinals’ tenure was impressive but left room for improvement, as he admitted. Defense? There was no lag. Arenado – “Nolan being Nolan”, as it’s been coined – captured his ninth consecutive Gold Glove to join an illustrious company.

Arenado becomes the second player to start a career with at least nine consecutive Golden Gloves (joining Ichiro Suzuki, who has had 10 in a row); ranked third all-time among third basemen, behind Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10); and is the first Cardinal to win the hot corner award since Scott Rolen in 2006 and the fifth individual to do so in franchise history.

First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt
Fourth Golden Glove
No player has been more central to the Cardinals’ defensive toughness this season than Goldschmidt. The pair of viral double plays they shot during their 17-game winning streak? Everyone was prompted by him. But for the past three years, Goldschmidt has had to watch rival Anthony Rizzo bring the material home; the two are the only NL first basemen to win since 2015. With Rizzo on a midseason trade with the American League, the pendulum has swung back.

It is the first Golden Glove of Goldschmidt’s Cardinals tenure, making him the first Redbird first baseman to win it since Albert Pujols in 2010. Goldschmidt, Pujols, Keith Hernandez and Bill White are the only four players first baseman to win the Golden Glove in franchise history.

Left fielder Tyler O’Neill
Second Golden Glove
A bit of a surprise winner in 2020, there was little shock from O’Neill’s 2021 triumph. he led all major left fielders in the league with 12 defensive points saved. His second consecutive Gold Glove came in the middle of a big season, with a 150 OPS+ to boot and chatter about upcoming MVP votes.

Neal T. Doss