Going into the 2023 season, it was crystal clear to baseball fans across the country that the Chicago Cubs were emphasizing defense.
Nearly a year later as 2023 award winners are announced, the Cubs’ defensive abilities this past season were honored on the biggest stage.
While the North Siders came up a game short of the playoffs, it was to no fault of their superb defense up the middle thanks to second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson, who both won the NL Gold Glove award for their respective positions.
In addition to the awards for Hoerner and Swanson, Ian Happ took home his second consecutive NL Gold Glove award for left field.
The win marks the first of his career for Hoerner, originally a shortstop who moved to the right side of the infield after the Cubs signed Swanson to a long-term deal.
Hoerner excelled in his first season at the position, accumulating 1.9 defensive WAR for the second straight season while leading all of baseball in assists and posting 15 outs above average.
As for Swanson, the win marks the second of his career as well as his second in a row, taking home more hardware for what was arguably the finest defensive performance in all of baseball.
Swanson’s 20 outs above average ranked first in MLB regardless of position, while his 2.7 defensive WAR ranked second among all players in the NL.
In addition to the NL Gold Glove award for shortstop, Swanson also won the Fielding Bible award for the position, which is only given to one MLB player per position.
As for Happ, the win marks the second of his career, adding more hardware to his name since becoming an everyday left fielder at the start of 2022.
Though Happ’s 2023 performance didn’t stick out with advanced metrics in the same way his Gold Glove-winning 2022 season did, Happ still showed defensive prowess at a position where it is often neglected.
Happ posted 12 outfield assists with an average arm speed of 85.4 miles per hour in 2023, both representing career-high marks for the former utility man-turned-left fielder.