By Scott Barzilla

We are almost half-way through our look at the Gold Glove awards. You might have guessed already that I am disenchanted with the way Gold Gloves are awarded. When Plato wrote his Republic he included something called the allegory of the cave. I know you didn’t click on this to read about ancient Greek philosophy, so I will make this quick.

There are characters in caves that see shadows and have competitions to see who can recognize the shadows. However, the shadows aren’t real. They are just shadows. One of the characters makes it out of the cave and discovers a whole new reality. He tries to tell everyone else about this reality, but discovers that no one believes him. Moreover, he can’t recognize the shadows anymore because his eyes have adjusted to the light.

The point is that it takes awhile to embrace new ideas. Once you do you can never go back. Many of our Gold Glove voters have not embraced the new ideas. They are still looking at shadows and calling it reality. The rest of us have to wait patiently for them to see the light, die out, or for Rawlings to finally put us out of our misery and have someone else choose the winners.

  Team INN +/- RS UZR/150 DWAR
Starlin Castro Cubs 1398 -15 -16 -8.8 -1.1
Alcides Escobar Royals 1387 12 5 9.9 1.2
Alexei  Ramirez White Sox 1382 7 7 11.9 0.7
Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 1326 -5 -5 -11.8 -0.7
Ian Desmond Nationals 1317 3 2 -5.5 -0.5
Alex Gonzalez Braves 1316 22 15 -0.3 1.1
Yuniesky Betancourt Brewers 1278 -9 -6 -7.4 0.5
Cliff Pennington Athletics 1272 -10 -7 -6.1 -0.3
Erick Aybar Angels 1262 -3 0 0.9 0.5
Elvis Andrus Rangers 1261 14 13 6.9 0.9
Jhonny Peralta Tigers 1245 -5 -4 10.7 1.0
Jason Bartlett Padres 1211 -10 -8 -0.9 -0.4
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 1208 10 11 7.9 1.3
Ronny Cedeno Pirates 1207 15 8 6.8 1.1
J.J. Hardy Orioles 1133 7 3 11.7 0.7
Yunel Escobar Blue Jays 1121 8 6 2.0 0.9
Jose Reyes Mets 1087 -13 -11 -3.6 -0.4
Brendan Ryan Mariners 1060 22 18 9.2 2.8
Clint Barmes Astros 1058 14 12 10.8 1.5
Jimmy Rollins Phillies 1050 -4 -2 3.1 0.7
Derek Jeter Yankees 1047 -22 -18 -8.8 -1.8
Marco Scutaro Red Sox 928 2 1 1.0 -1.1

American League

Derek Jeter has won several Gold Gloves in his career. If he wins another, Rawlings should withdraw their sponsorship of the award. After all, who wants to be affiliated with a joke? Giving him another award would almost be some kind of cruel practical joke to see if sabermetricians heads will explode. Thankfully, his chances of winning this year are slim.

Sabermetric Gold Glove: Brendan Ryan (Seattle Mariners)

Ryan was the winner in the NL last season and inexplicably, the Cardinals traded him to put Ryan Theriot at short instead. I’m not exactly sure what the motivation was behind that. Theriot has good hands, but his range isn’t much wider than a phone booth. Theriot is a good OBP guy, but he gives all of those runs back in the field. Alcides Escobar and Elvis Andrus are on the medal stand with Ryan, but it isn’t particularly close.

Actual Gold Glove: Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland Indians)

Watch as the pundits make this pick and pat themselves on the back their ingeniuty. Yes, he makes highlight reel plays. The object is to make more plays, not make more spectacular plays. Every system has him as below average, but because he was Baseball Tonight on a nightly basis he will get the award.

Worst Glove: Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)

The emperor has no clothes. This is the worst kept secret in baseball. At this point, the Yankees know too, but like your family member that wants to try out for American Idol, you smile and tell them they’re good. Then, when they leave the room you all look at each other and you know what everyone is thinking. Well, Jeter, you are that guy.

National League

The National League is not as comical as the American League. We have another one of those lazy voter situations that’s going to rear its ugly head. We have a guy that is legitimately good and had a good season, but he isn’t best this year. More and more, I think these guys fill out their ballots on April 1st and just leave it on their desk until it’s time to turn them in.

Sabermetric Gold Glove: Clint Barmes (Houston Astros)

This one was about as close as any of them. Alex Gonzalez was very good in Atlanta and slightly better than Barmes in the fielding bible categories. However, Barmes was better than Gonzalez in UZR and DWAR. Ronny Cedeno was also very good.

Actual Gold Glove: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado Rockies)

Troy Tulowitzki is legitimately a very good defensive shortstop. He might even be the best in the National League over a five or ten year period. This doesn’t mean he will be the best every season and it is time the voters understood this. If they understand nothing else I hope they understand this.

Worst Glove: Starlin Castro (Chicago Cubs)

Starlin Castro broke through this year offensively and hit over .300. Unfortunately, he is one of the many reasons why the Cubs pitchers struggled this year. He is young, so we hope he can improve.


Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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Filed under: MLB, SABR


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