Reds' Tucker Barnhart wins Gold Glove as top defensive catcher in National League

CINCINNATI - Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart got the highest compliment after winning his first Gold Glove Monday night:

High praise from 10-time Gold Glove winner and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

Voters selected Barnhart as the top defensive catcher in the National League over eight-time winner Yadier Molina of the Cardinals and  Buster Posey of the Giants. He's the first Reds catcher to win the award since Bench in 1977.

Barnhart's reaction? Thrilled. Humbled. Astonished.

Three other Reds were Gold Glove finalists at their positions but did not win. They were first baseman Joey Votto, center fielder Billy Hamilton and left fielder Adam Duvall.

SEE all the Gold Glove winners.

So it was Barnhart's night and a seismic shock as baseball awards go, since the 26-year-old Barnhart won in only his second full season as Reds catcher after taking over for injury-plagued Devin Mesoraco.

But the suburban Indianapolis native had a breakout year, leading the league in a half-dozen defensive categories:

  • Defensive WAR (2.8)
  • Fielding percentage (.999)
  • Caught stealing (32)
  • Caught stealing percentage (43.8)
  • Assists (89)
  • Blocked pitches (661)
  • Total zone runs (11) - The number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made. 

Barnhart committed only one error in 953 chances compared to seven in 2016 and raised his caught stealing percentage 10 points.

Although the award doesn’t consider offense, Barnhart also raised his slash line from .257./.323/.379 to .270/.347/.403.

Besides his defense and offense, the Reds liked the way the young catcher handled the more than 40 pitchers - young and old - they used last season. They rewarded Barnhart, a 10th-round pick in 2009, with a four-year, $16 million contract in September.

"The choice to invest in Tucker was an easy one because of all the other players on the field he impacts and touches," Reds General Manager Dick Williams said at the time. "He just makes everyone better."

Reds pitchers Brandon Finnegan, Sal Romano, Drew Storen and Cody Reed tweeted their congrats to their batterymate.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips was the last Red to win a Gold Glove, taking home his third straight in 2013. Votto won in 2011.

 

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