It’s awards season. The Rangers already took home the biggest award of all. But it’s nice for individual players to be honored.
Yesterday, three Rangers won Gold Glove Awards. Nathanial Lowe at first, Jonah Heim at catcher, and Adolis Garcia in right. The only other team in the American League with three Gold Glove winners was Toronto.
Here’s what MLB.com had to say about each Rangers winner.
Catcher: Jonah Heim, Rangers.
Chalk up another one for the Rangers, who set a franchise record with three Gold Glove Award winners in the same year. Heim not only had a career year at the plate to help Texas win its first World Series title, but he also earned his first All-Star selection and now his first career Gold Glove Award. Heim led all AL backstops in fielding runs above average, according to FanGraphs, with 22.8. Prior to Heim winning the honor this year, only two other Rangers’ catchers had done so—Ivan Rodriguez (1992-2001) and Jim Sundberg (1976-81).
Heim threw out a career-high 22 of 80 (27.5%) attempted base stealers, the highest caught-stealing percentage among AL catchers. Per Statcast, his 10 catcher framing runs ranked third in MLB behind the Giants’ Patrick Bailey (16) and teammate Austin Hedges (13).
Heim is the third Rangers catcher to win a Gold Glove, joining Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (1992-2001) and Jim Sundberg (1976-81).
Catching coordinator Bobby Wilson emphasized all season that Heim has been a special part of this team’s success.
“Watching Jonah grow this year has been great,” pitching coach Mike Maddux added earlier in the postseason. “As it’s come down to where he’s caught every game now, he’s getting better and better and better. He’s getting more comfortable. Jonah has definitely learned, and he has stepped up his game and he’s taken full responsibility back there. He is really engaged in every pitch we throw and really with the advanced stuff when we sit down every day. Jonah has been the unsung hero of this postseason run.”
First base: Nathaniel Lowe, Rangers.
Days after experiencing the unparalleled thrill of winning the World Series, Lowe’s week ended with his first career Gold Glove Award. The 28-year-old slugger took a step back at the plate in 2023, posting a .775 OPS with 17 homers after a breakout ’22 campaign in which he launched 27 homers with an .851 OPS. But his offensive struggles didn’t affect his play in the field—Lowe finished with four outs above average, per Statcast, a massive improvement over his minus-11 OAA in ’22, which was lowest among qualified first basemen.
Lowe was perhaps the biggest shock, as the first baseman dramatically improved his defense this season, beginning with a career-best .9977 fielding percentage. The advanced metrics backed up the eye test.
Lowe improved astronomically in outs above average (-11 in 2022, 5 in ‘23) and defensive runs saved (-9 in ‘22, 3 in ‘23). His ‘22 marks were last among all qualified first basemen in both metrics, while both were in the top five in ‘23.
Lowe is the fourth Ranger to win a Gold Glove at first base, joining Mitch Moreland (2016), Mark Teixeira (2005-06) and Rafael Palmeiro (1999).
“He put in a lot of work and into trying to improve in his defense,” infield coordinator Tony Beasley said of Lowe earlier in the season. “He was open to criticism and instruction. That’s the credit to him for just being vulnerable about his defense. He told me going into spring, ‘I need to get better.’
“I think the relationship with us was huge because it’s hard to coach someone if you can’t get feedback. You have to be able to say what is needed from a constructive standpoint. You’ve got to tear something down before you can build it back up. So, the bottom line is he knows I want him to get better, and he wants to get better. We have a common goal. We just both work towards it.”
Right field: Aroldis Garcia, Rangers.
While his career-high 39 home runs during the regular season and eight in the postseason garnered the headlines, let’s not overlook García’s tremendous defense in 2023. He earned his first career Gold Glove honor and the fourth by an outfielder in Rangers history, thanks in particular to his cannon of an arm—his average arm strength of 93 mph, which led to 11 assists, ranked in the 95th percentile among qualified outfielders.
García had a team-best 11 outfield assists this season, which was tied for third in the AL. It was his third straight season with 10-plus outfield assists. He ranked third among qualified MLB right fielders in defensive runs saved (seven).
García is the fourth Rangers outfielder to win a Gold Glove, joining Joey Gallo (2020-21), Gary Pettis (1990) and Juan Beniquez (1977).
“He’s just a complete player,” Bochy said. “Speed, arm, can hit — the guy can do it all. We saw it. And he’s accurate, too, and he loves to throw. He loves to be challenged. And we’ve seen that quite a few times. He really enjoys that part of the game, and he works at it.”
“Defense and pitching wins,” Beasley said. “So we have to pitch well, and we have to execute and turn batted balls into outs. That’s the formula for us.”