Seattle Mariners

Mike Zunino selected as MLB’s top defensive catcher in Wilson awards

Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino throws to first after Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani struck out swinging but got on base after a wild pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino throws to first after Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani struck out swinging but got on base after a wild pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo) AP

Mike Zunino might not have his first Gold Glove, but on Wednesday he was announced by MLB as the Wilson defensive player of the year at catcher.

The Wilson award is determined by a combination of traditional defensive stats and advanced metrics and it was announced on MLB Network.

This was after Zunino wasn’t even a finalists, as in selected in the top three, in the American League for this year’s AL Gold Glove at catcher. The Wilson awards recognize the top defensive players at their position in all of baseball, not distinguishing between the American or National leagues.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ladies and gentlemen, your 2018 <a href="https://twitter.com/wilsonballglove?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WilsonBallGlove</a> Defensive Players of the Year. <a href="https://t.co/W9EuZ6v775">pic.twitter.com/W9EuZ6v775</a></p>&mdash; MLB (@MLB) <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1060318486721937408?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 7, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

It also comes one day after The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mariners were in talks with the Rays about a potential trade involving Zunino.

Zunino didn’t live up to high expectations offensively this past season, batting .201/.259/.410, though he did hit at least 20 home runs for the third time in his six big-league seasons.

But his power potential and work behind are what kept him on the field every day, and with a consistent vote of confidence from the coaching staff – even though he struck out 150 times in 373 at-bats.

The 27-year-old led all catchers with 12 defensive runs saved this past season, according to Fangraphs. He also ranked third in the American League and fifth in the majors among qualified catchers with a .998 fielding percentage.

Only Dan Wilson (.999 in 2001) has recorded a higher fielding percentage in a season in Mariners history than Zunino.

The other Mariners to earn a Wilson defensive player of the year (at any position) are Brendan Ryan (shortstop) in 2012 and Dustin Ackley (second base) in 2013.

But the Zunino trade talks come about a month after manager Scott Servais, a former MLB catcher, tried to dispel any frustrations.

“I don’t get why people say we’d walk away from him,” Servais said. “It’s never going to happen.”

Maybe that’s just lip service, but Servais’ case seemed convincing.

“Because we’ve seen it happen for him,” Servais said.

“The state of catching in today’s game, he brings so much to the table with what he does behind the plate – the game-calling, the throwing arm is good and he has the physical attributes you look for out of a guy back there. Offensively, it’s frustrating for him and frustrating to watch, and really just the lack of contact. When he hits it, it’s usually hit hard because he’s that strong.

“It should all click and come together. I’ve often said catchers figure it out later and that’s the most frustrating part – because we thought he was on the verge of taking that next step.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Among <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mariners?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mariners</a>’ many discussions, per sources: Talks with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rays</a> about catcher Mike Zunino. TB has only two Cs on 40-man - Nick Ciuffo and Michael Perez, who have played 40 games combined in MLB. Only other SEA catcher on M’s 40-man is David Freitas, who has played 42 MLB games.</p>&mdash; Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1059883715571023872?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677; Twitter: @TJCotterill

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