Tuesday, November 9, 2010

AL Gold Glove Awards Announced

The American League Gold Glove Award winners were announced, and once again they've proven to be a completely useless barometer of defensive excellence.  In other news, water is wet, Lindsey Lohan is in rehab, Clay Aiken is gay, and Ricky Martin is a fan of golden showers.  (Enjoy the visual by the way.)

Peter Abrahams of the Boston Globe has the scoop on the most egregious of poor choices for the award:
"Jeter winning is a bit comical considering he's simply not a very good shortstop and is arguably one of the worst given his lack of range. UZR is not necessarily an accurate stat for one season. But he was seventh in the AL among qualifying shortstops. Jeter did not get a single vote in the Fielding Bible Awards, which reflect much more statistically driven opinion. And those guys vote 10 spots. ... Prepare for much outrage over the Jeter pick but I doubt Rawlings or MLB will change the rules. It's a ridiculous, flawed process and has been for a while."
Comical is probably the nicest thing I could say about Jeter winning his fifth Gold Glove.  Out of the nine eligible AL shortstops, Jeter finished seventh in  UZR (-4.7), eighth in Defensive Runs Scored (-13), and ninth in range factor (3.78).  The only two categories that Jeter led the league in were errors (6) and fielding percentage (.989).  While this might look nice on the surface, these two statistics are the single most subjective (and therefore, meaningless) statistics in baseball.  If the award was given on the basis of defensive merit, either Alexei Ramirez or Cliff Pennington would've won it.  Jeter won solely based on a reputation he doesn't deserve.

As for the other awards:

Catcher: Joe Mauer (Twins) - I don't have any issue with this one.  While you could certainly make a case for Kurt Suzuki or Matt Weiters, Joe Mauer is a very good defensive catcher.

First base: Mark Teixeira (Yankees) - Teixeira is not a bad choice.  He's a very good defensive first baseman, but I find him to be a little overrated.  Not a lot, but a little.  That said, Daric Barton was far and away the best defensive player at his position beating his nearest competitors in UZR by 12 runs and DRS by 11 runs.  Also, it should be noted that only two eligible AL first basemen had positive UZRs--Barton at 12.1 and Lyle Overbay at 0.1.   

Second base: Robinson Cano (Yankees) - Cano made some huge strides defensively this year, and he should be commended for it.  That said, I find it hard to believe anyone thought he was better than either Mark Ellis or Orlando Hudson.  Hudson in particular has a tremendous reputation for being a superior defensive second baseman.  Hudson has won four Gold Gloves, and had put together his best defensive season (per UZR) since 2005.  My opinion is that Cano got the edge based on his tremendous offensive season.  While this shouldn't matter, it often has serves as a tiebreaker with some voters.

Third base: Even Longoria (Rays) - No problem with this one.  Longoria is a stud with a glove.  I might've gone with Adrian Beltre (who deserves more than two Gold Glove awards), and several have made compelling arguments for Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Still, Longoria is deserving of the honor.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter (Yankees) - Ugh.  See above.

Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners), Carl Crawford (Rays), Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners) - Again, no real issues with these choices either, but I kinda like the Fielding Bible's choice of Brett Gardner.  I'm not sure who I'd bump off of the list, but my gut would be to kick Gutierrez off of the list.  That said, he deserves recognition for his tremendous defense--especially since he was unacceptably omitted from last year's awards.

Pitcher: Mark Buehrle (White Sox) - After his tremendous play on Opening Day, was their every any question who would win?

Just to get out ahead of the NL GGs being announced tomorrow, here are my picks:

Catcher:  Yadier Molina
First Base:  Albert Pujols
Second Base:  Chase Utley (if he doesn't finally win, I'm going to start a riot in the streets)
Third Base:  Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop:  Troy Tulowitski or Stephen Drew (it's a toss up since both are great)
Outfield:  Andres Torres, Jay Bruce, and Justin Upton
Pitcher:  Tim Hudson

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