Matt Chapman was a couple years behind Nolan Arenado at El Toro High School, taking over at shortstop on the team when Arenado graduated, and then taking aim at following even farther in Arenado’s footsteps when right out of high school, Arenado was the second-round draft choice in 2009.
Chapman did, in more ways than one, although he initially attended Cal State Fullerton, and in 2014, five years after Arenado was signed by the Rockies, Chapman was a first-round draft choice of the Oakland A’s.
Time has only created a stronger bond between the two in the eyes of the baseball world.
On Friday night in New York, Arenado, the NL Gold Glove third baseman, and Chapman, the AL Gold Glove third baseman, were honored for the second year in a row as the winners of the Platinum Glove in their respective league – an award that goes to the best defensive player, regardless of the position, they play, in each league.
And this one was even more special because not only did the two El Toro High School products win the awards, but much to their surprise, Mike Gonzalez, their high school coach, showed up for the ceremony, and handled the presentation of the honors.
“It’s huge. It’s such an honor [and] such a proud moment for myself and for my family,” Gonzales said. “Being a part of these guys’ career and to see how compassionate they are with our family and my kids, to see their work ethic and to see them mature as young men just makes me so proud knowing that I’ve known them since they were 12, 13 years old. The people they’ve grown up to be is just tremendous.”
The two have never forgotten Gonzalez.
“I talk to these guys all the time,” Gonzales said. “They’re always so generous with their time with myself and my family. I have two boys who play baseball, so they’re always at their beck and call if they ever need anything. It’s just a great relationship. They’ve always stayed grounded. They never forget where they came from. It’s just a great friendship they’ve grown to have.”
And they have definitely made an impact on the field.
Arenado is a hand full of days shy of seven years of service time in the big leagues but has now son seven Gold Gloves. Chapman has won the AL honor in both of his big league seasons.
“Thank God we’ve been able to stay healthy this year, to go out there and compete every day,” Arenado said during the Friday night ceremony. “There are so many great ballplayers who won Gold Gloves, and so many players who didn’t win Gold Gloves who are so good, so to be voted by [the fans] is a seriously unreal feeling. It’s pretty surreal. But we’ve just got to continue to work hard and hopefully make it happen again.”
The Platinum Glove winners are decided by a combination of fan votes and the Society for American Baseball Research’s defensive index, which considers a fielder’s range, his arm and his sure-handedness, along with his outstanding plays, using metrics such as reaction time, the amount of ground covered and the velocity of throws.