This year's Gold Glove ripoff (and it has nothing to do with Derek Jeter)
There is little doubt that you are expecting me to follow up that headline by writing about
Anyway, back to Jeter. I have to tell you: I'm really not at all perturbed about
And, to be honest about it, there wasn't a real obvious choice for Gold Glove shortstop in the American League -- there has not been for years, which is why Jeter has won four Gold Gloves now. There is no widely accepted American League defensive genius the way there was when
The best defensive shortstop in the American League in my view was Texas'
Andrus could have won the Gold Glove -- I would have voted him the Gold Glove -- but to be fair he was just a rookie, and he did make 22 errors, and you can understand why the managers and coaches went with Jeter.
Same is true for Detroit's
So... yes, I'm saying that I think Jeter is actually a fair Gold Glove pick. I would not have picked him -- as mentioned, I would have picked Andrus -- but I think this was a pretty good year to give Jeter the Gold Glove. Now, I feel just as strongly that his previous three Gold Glove wins were all pure lunacy. And I also think this is where the Jeter Gold Glove run ends --
But this year I really don't think Jeter is a bad choice at all. No, there was someone else who I think got wildly ripped off for a Gold Glove. And, no, I'm not talking about
Anyway, DeJesus didn't win a Gold Glove, of course. But I'm thinking of another outfielder. The three outfielders who won Gold Gloves were
Ichiro: +21 plays above average
Yes, that would be -20 for Adam Jones. Maybe you don't buy that at all. I understand. Here are their Ultimate Zone Ratings:
Ichiro: +10.5 runs above average
Yes, with UZR, Torii AND Adam Jones scored negative numbers... again, you might call total bull on that. And I understand, I really do. You might simply know, in your heart, that Hunter is still as great as he ever was out there and that Adam Jones is a defensive dynamo. But now I'm going to show you the Dewan plus/minus and the UZR for another outfielder. You already know who this is:
Do me a favor, no matter how you may feel about defensive numbers: Just look at those again. Compare them. Please? Everyone knows that I love these stats, but even if you think they are irreparably flawed -- could they be THAT WRONG? His plus/minus is SIXTY THREE PLAYS better than Adam Jones. His UZR suggests that he saved more than THIRTY RUNS more Torii Hunter. Could they be that wrong?
Well, obviously, I don't think so. I spent some time watching these players... I ended up watching quite a few Seattle games last year. There is little doubt in my mind that Franklin Gutierrez was every bit as good as the numbers suggest, and that he was a much, much, much, much better defensive player than any of the three, including Ichiro, who I think had a terrific defensive year. That's not a knock. Gutierrez had a monster defensive year. A near-legendary defensive year.
And numbers aside, my own scouting aside -- people who watched him play thought that too. I probably heard from five or six scouts/executives this year who said that they saw Gutierrez play and thought he was a phenom out there. Of the 10 voters in the Fielding Bible, eight picked Gutierrez the best center fielder in all of baseball, not just the AL. Bill James picked the Diamondbacks'
The way I see it: The coaches and managers missed. That's all. We all know that the Gold Glove has become something to reward good offensive players who seem to be pretty decent in the field, too. I think part of it comes from this urge we have to believe in the complete player. I mean look at the OFFENSIVE numbers of the AL Gold Glove winners:
SS: Derek Jeter -- Another great offensive year, an MVP candidate.
OF: Ichiro Suzuki -- Hit .352 and led league with 225 hits -- fourth year in a row that he led league in hits.
OF: Torii Hunter -- Eighth straight Gold Glove and he probably had his best offensive season, 126 OPS+
OF: Adam Jones -- Sort of an odd fit, but was hitting .303 with some power before All-Star Break.
So there you go. How likely is it that the best offensive players are ALL the best defensive players, too?
I really feel like the Gutierrez snub is a huge blight on this year's Gold Glove award. He had a defensive year for the ages. It seemed impossible to miss. But he's a limited offensive player (not bad, but limited), and he played out in Seattle (and maybe the voters didn't want to choose TWO Mariners), and this was his first year in center field (he had been an utterly brilliant defensive right fielder in Cleveland). I appreciate that the Gold Glove is a flawed award and always has been, but it is, for now, THE award for defense, and I really wish they had gotten this one right. I think they should have gotten it right.