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Bucs’ Jacob Stallings takes home Gold Glove award

Veteran backstop prevails over Cards’ Molina and Phillies’ Realmuto

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings, who for much of his minor league career never figured to be more than just a backup in the big leagues, took home the 2021 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for National League catchers Sunday.

Stallings, who was designated for assignment in 2016 and later outrighted off the roster twice, was a finalist for the same award a year ago but watched former Cincinnati Red Tucker Barnhart capture the award.

This time around, the 31-year-old Stallings beat out two previous Gold Glove award winners, Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and J.T. Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies, to become the first Pirate to win the hardware since 2018, when Corey Dickerson won for his play in left field.

He’s also the first Pirates catcher to win the award since Mike “Spanky” LaValliere won it in 1987.

While Stallings was a winner, two of his Bucco teammates — Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman — came up short.

Kevin Gorman of the Trib tweeted out several quotes from Stallings, who said, “To win an award like this, I wasn’t going to allow myself to look at the list of winners until I won. ... I don’t know that it’s totally sunk in but it’s very cool and, obviously, a dream come true.”

Stallings led all players – not just catchers — with 21 Defensive Runs Saved this season. That’s more than twice as many as any other catcher in the league. He did not allow a passed ball in 892 innings over 104 games behind the plate.

Stallings played more than 70 games in a big league season just once before 2021; his previous high of 71 games came in 2019. This season, the University of North Carolina product appeared in 112 games and contributed a .246 batting average and a .704 OPS in 427 plate appearances.

Reynolds lost out to the Cardinals’ Harrison Bader in the battle for the center field hardware.

Reynolds finished second – to Bader – among NL center fielders with 10 Outs Above Average. Bader also led all center fielders with 15 Defensive Runs Saved.

Reynolds is still in the running for another prestigious award – the Silver Slugger award, the winners of which are scheduled to be announced Thursday.

Newman lost out to Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants in the shortstop competition.

Newman opened the season with a streak of 76 consecutive errorless games and totaled nine Defensive Runs Saved to six for Crawford and four for Francisco Lindor, the other shortstop finalist.

On the season, Newman committed just three errors in 453 chances during 132 games at shortstop totaling 1,074 1/3 innings for a fielding percentage of .993.