The KC Royals 2023 season is slowly, yet painfully, coming to a close. The Royals are outscoring their opponents on average in September, but the losing record remains and any positivity in September feels dampened by a lost season. Some positivity, and rewards for individual performances, are end-of-season awards. The Royals are no stranger to such awards, and that goes doubly for pitcher Zack Greinke.
The 39-year-old veteran was the franchise's last Cy Young Award winner, back in 2009. Greinke kept on collecting hardware even after his departure from Kansas City. He won six straight Gold Glove Awards from 2014-2019 and two Silver Slugger Awards in 2014 and 2019. While Greinke's bat remains cold this season, there was hope he could win another Gold Glove before his career's end. Alas, that is not going to happen.
The Rawlings Gold Glove criteria are very specific, weeding out players with small sample sizes. Unfortunately, that affected Greinke too.
"All pitchers must have pitched in at least 138 innings by his team’s 138th game;"- GOLD GLOVE SELECTION CRITERIA
This does not sound like a high bar to clear, at first glance. But, with shorter starts or being the bulk man, Greinke fell short of this criteria. Through the Royals' 133rd game this season, Greinke had only 119 1/3 innings pitched for Kansas City. While Greinke's decline this season has been apparent, I failed to realize how few innings he pitched this season.
I thought that Greinke had not just a shot to win another Gold Glove, but be the favorite. He recorded seven runs saved and four Positioning, Balls hit in the air, Range, and Throwing (PART) scores, both career highs. Griekne's seven runs saved leads all MLB pitchers this season as well, according to The Fielding Bible. His outs above average (OAA) are not high, but three OAA as a pitcher is respectable.
Metrics aside, winning another Gold Glove would have at least sent Greinke into the sunset on a high note. His 2023 has been anything but a banner one, evident by his 1-15 record and 5.47 ERA. The Royals have done few favors for the future Royals Hall of Famer, as far as run and defensive support goes.
It is disappointing to possibly watch Greinke's career end on a down year. But, Father Time is undefeated and Greinke fended him off as long as possible. No matter what his final 2023 starts look like, his shelf is already chock full of awards.