Rawlings Sporting Goods released their 2012 Gold Glove Award finalists today, and they'll be announced at 9:30 pm Tuesday on ESPN 2. Among the NL's finalists are two Washington Nationals' infielders: Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.
Both LaRoche and Desmond have real chances to win the award because of their offensive impact this season. That may seem silly for an award rewarding defense, but Rawlings has historically considered good defensive players with good offensive numbers rather than great defensive players with average-to-poor offensive numbers.
LaRoche put up an impressive 6.1 UZR at first base this season and was perhaps the most consistent defensive performer for the Nats. He was able to save Desmond, Danny Espinosa, and Ryan Zimmerman from sure errors all year with his incredible glove. Meanwhile, Desmond's defense has improved greatly over the years. This is the first season of his three full years in the major leagues that he has a UZR in positive territory at 4.8.
Ultimately, Votto has far fewer innings than LaRoche, but he has a slightly higher UZR, one fewer error, and a higher WAR and slash line. LaRoche was far more durable, only missing eight games this season, and although my gut tells me Votto will walk away with the first base award, it will be close.
Ian Desmond is dwarfed by Zack Cozart in UZR, but his offensive numbers pale in comparison to the Nationals' shortstop. I think Jimmy Rollins is the main competition for Desmond here, but I actually believe Ian Desmond will win his first of many Gold Gloves at shortstop.
Two (three?) snubs: Neither Ryan Zimmerman nor Danny Espinosa were nominated for the Gold Glove award this year, even though both of them probably deserve the nomination. Zimmerman had little chance to win the award because of stiff competition this year in David Wright, Chase Headley, and Aramis Ramirez, but Espinosa seems like a snub. I don't think he would have won the award, but Aaron Hill was nominated over Espinosa, likely due to his incredibly impressive offensive season.
You could even add Bryce Harper to the list of snubs for outfielders. However, because they now nominate by position rather than outfield as a whiole, I think that hurts Harper, who split time between center and right fields this season due to Jayson Werth's injury.