The Colorado Rockies have received three Gold Glove nominations but that is just the beginning of a defensive renaissance happening in Denver.

Obscured largely (and understandably) by the first 100+ loss season in franchise history, the Rockies have quietly put together a collection of some of the best gloves in the game.

At third base, Ryan McMahon earns his third consecutive nomination, having now cemented himself as truly elite even if he hasn’t won the award yet and is likely to lose out once again to Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

McMahon already ranks sixth in Rockies history in Defensive WAR (Baseball Reference) and has become a staple at or near the top of the Defensive Runs Saves charts each year. It’s also worth noting that he can also take his quality defense over to second or even first base in a pinch.

Over at shortstop, rookie Ezequiel Tovar gets the first of what we should expect to be several Gold Glove nominations. He broke a rookie record for fielding percentage at shortstop, previously held by Troy Tulowitzki. The Rockies, with Trevor Story sandwiched between them, sure have quite the run of quality defenders at that position of the last 17 years.

Staying on the infield, Brendan Rodgers missed most of the season but while we are on the subject, it’s worth noting that he won the award a year ago and was even nominated for the Platinum Glove.

Left fielder Nolan Jones fell just short of the minimum number of innings needed to qualify but if he had played just a bit more almost certainly would have been the fourth nomination for the Rockies in 2023.

He posted a higher DRS (9) than the three players who were nominated; Eddie Rosario (3) Ian Happ (2) and David Peralta (7).

He also famously set a Rockies record with 19 outfield assists, showcasing arguably the best and most valuable throwing arm in MLB. He is the 100th percentile on Baseball Savant in the “arm” category. 

Considering this was Jones’ first season as a full-time outfielder (previously 3B) it is only reasonable to expect him to continue to improve in this regard, getting better jumps and taking better routes to even further maximize his remarkable athleticism. He should join this group next year.

And center field should be no contest.

Defensive metrics aren’t perfect but when every single one of them sees a player as comfortably better than everyone else, that says something, and Brenton Doyle had a nearly unfathomable season.

The numbers are off the charts, 19 DRS despite spending the first month of the season in Triple-A, and a 24.5 UZR and a 16 OAA don’t just put Doyle in first place among NL center fielders, they put him in a category entirely of his own across all of MLB. Well, Fernando Tatis Jr. and his ridiculous 27 DRS in right field is also in that category. But that’s it.

According to Baseball Savant, Doyle is in the 99th percentile in Range (OAA), Arm Value, and Arm Strength while being in the 98th percentile for Sprint Speed. He is the 100th percentile for overall Fielding Run Value, meaning that they don’t see anyone at any position who is more valuable on defense. 

That’s all before you get to the monumental uphill battle that every single Rockies outfielder, especially center fielder, has when patrolling the vast expanse at Coors Field. Consider that the total amassed DRS by Rockies center fielders is well below a negative one hundred.

In his rookie season, Doyle cemented himself as the best CF in franchise history by both literal and figurative leaps and bounds.

This leaves only three positions left undiscussed: right field, first base, and catcher.

Believe it or not, the club has internal candidates at each position with potential Gold Glove caliber defense.

Right field seems destined to become the position for either Zac Veen or Yanquiel Fernandez, both well above average athletes with big arms and good speed. Benny Montgomery is another outfielder in the mix with monster defensive potential.

At first, Michael Toglia has already shown to be absolutely tremendous, he just hasn’t been able to hit enough to stick in the majors just yet.

And behind the dish Elias Diaz already boasts one of the better arms in MLB but it is prospect Drew Romo who was turning heads on defense before he was even drafted. Reports are that the switch-hitting catcher possesses an advanced feel for the spot and has been big league ready (on defense) essentially since turning pro.

He managed to hit enough in 2023 to get moved all the way up to Triple-A meaning that by the midway point of next season it would not be unreasonable for all of these players to join the roster.

Throw in that Kyle Freeland has always had above average athleticism and defensive ability on defense that has gone largely unnoticed thanks to down years by either him or the team and a handful of injuries.

This means that it is completely within the realm of possibility, if not altogether a likelihood, that the Rockies could roll out a lineup next season with Gold Glove caliber players at every single position.

If Charlie Blackmon or Kris Bryant are hurt or getting a day off and Elehuris Montero is at the DH, an All-Gold-Glover lineup might look something like:

  1. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)
  2. Zac Veen (RF)
  3. Brendan Rodgers (2B)
  4. Nolan Jones (LF)
  5. Elehuris Montero (DH)
  6. Ryan McMahon (3B)
  7. Michael Toglia (1B)
  8. Brenton Doyle (CF)
  9. Drew Romo (C)

Kyle Freeland (SP)

Of course, it is worth noting that defense in baseball is much like special teams in the NFL. It is rarely the difference maker in a significant number of contests and it can often amount to not much at all if the more important elements of your team aren’t doing what they need to.

If Colorado can’t get their pitching fixed up, this group won’t be more than an entertaining way to watch an 8-3 loss become a 5-3 loss.

Still, this is a way to get the absolute most of whatever pitching they do have and taking those extra runs off the board can be massive, especially at Coors Field.

Make no mistake, the Rockies will need to pitch and hit much better in order to truly start to turn this thing around.

But they couldn’t be in a much better spot when it comes to their defense. And there are worse places to start.