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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gold Gloves Improving, Still Flawed


Still the best, Omar Vizquel got robbed

It was nice to see that MLB voters finally awarded Gold Gloves to first-time winners rather than just lazily passing the honor onto incumbents as is the annual trend. What bugs me most about the Gold Glove is that it often goes to a player who is well-known because of his hitting (see Jeter, Derek), though it’s supposed to be strictly a defensive honor. In all, there were 10 first-time winners this year. While mainstays like Greg Maddux, Pudge Rodriguez, Torii Hunter, and Andruw Jones all snagged awards, there were several new faces to the list.

Orlando Cabrera, Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre, and Grady Sizemore were nice additions. Kevin Youkilis also sneaked in as the first baseman, but I can’t imagine any first baseman being better defensively than Casey Kotchman was for the Angels. Again, it’s a popularity and reputation contest — can’t expect too much. Another perfect example: Vernon Wells has a sub-par year with the bat and gets dropped from the list though his fielding was fine.

I still have a few complaints about the NL list. Orlando Hudson missed the last month of the season but still gets the award, even though defensive ratings say Chase Utley was the best in the NL at 2B. Moreover, Jimmy Rollins and David Wright seemed to snag their awards because of their offensive contributions, not defensive. I just don’t understand how you strip Omar Vizquel of a Gold Glove (unless you just didn’t watch the Giants all year) for anyone not named Troy Tulowitzki. That was bullcrap. At third, Ryan Zimmerman played all year and balled it up defensively. That should have been his award — but he’s not as popular as Wright.

In all, there were many improvements, but the voting is still somewhat fraudulent. I guess the bottom line is it’s tough to expect people to vote on awards when they didn’t get to watch half the players in the league play defense for more than three or four games all year. That probably explains the whole incumbency trend.



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