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Rays’ Taylor Walls a finalist for Gold Glove award at utility position

Competition for the honor is Houston’s Maurico Dubon and Detroit’s Zach McKinstry. Wander Franco does not make the cut at shortstop.
 
Rays infielder Taylor Walls, shown fielding a ground ball before a game against the Boston Red Sox in September, is one of three finalists for a Gold Glove award at the utility position.
Rays infielder Taylor Walls, shown fielding a ground ball before a game against the Boston Red Sox in September, is one of three finalists for a Gold Glove award at the utility position. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 18, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG — Due to a series of circumstances, Taylor Walls’ playing time this past season was split somewhat equally between second base, shortstop and third base.

His overall work between the three positions was good enough to earn a spot among the top three finishers for the American League Gold Glove award for utility players.

The other finalists are Houston’s Maurico Dubon (who is also a finalist at second base) and Detroit’s Zach McKinstry. Winners are announced Nov. 5.

Walls was the only Ray honored.

Shortstop Wander Franco ranked among the leaders in several defensive metrics through mid-August, when his season ended. He was placed on the restricted list by mutual agreement and then administrative leave by Major League Baseball due to allegations of inappropriate relationships with one or more minors. He is being investigated by league and Dominican Republic authorities.

Rays shortstop Wander Franco throws to first base during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in July at Tropicana Field.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco throws to first base during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in July at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Franco was the top-rated AL player at any position through Aug. 13 in the Society for American Baseball Research Defensive Index (SDI), which is part of the Gold Glove selection process. He finished the season tied for fourth in defensive WAR, per baseball-reference.com.

A spokesperson for Rawlings, which presents the awards, did not respond Wednesday when asked if Franco was ineligible or just did not make the top three. The finalists are Minnesota’s Carlos Correa, Texas’ Corey Seager and New York’s Anthony Volpe.

The utility award was introduced last year, and the selection process is different than for the Gold Gloves at the nine positions.

Those selections are based 75% on votes by league managers and coaches among players who qualify based on innings/games at their position, and 25% on a statistical and analytic formula called the SDI, which incorporates six data sources.

Rays infielder Taylor Walls throws to first base during a game against the Boston Red Sox in April at Tropicana Field.
Rays infielder Taylor Walls throws to first base during a game against the Boston Red Sox in April at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

All Rawlings says about the utility award is that the company “collaborated with SABR to create a specialized defensive formula separate from the traditional selection process,” and the selections are made “utilizing the SABR formula and additional defensive statistics.”

Walls made eight errors, splitting time between shortstop (32 games, 28 starts), second base (37, 33) and third base (39, 36).

Dubon committed seven errors between second base (79 games, 66 starts), outfield (38, 30), shortstop (nine starts), first base (two starts) and third base (one game).

McKinstry made nine errors between outfield (56 games, 35 starts), third base (52, 29), second base (47, 34) and shortstop (23, 18).

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