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What will pass for Gold Glove outrage today

Oct 31, 2012, 8:53 AM EDT

J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones

Gold Glove Awards were announced last night. I didn’t see them when they came out because I was doing important things like watching “Serenity” for the tenth time. Shiny.

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I have any way to measure defense that is any better than what anyone else has. Quite worse, in fact, as I don’t have nearly the grasp on the relevant defensive metrics that the experts and many of you guys sling around.  When I talk about defense it’s almost always based on the eyeball test, because it’s really all I got. To the extent I have any authority on it — and I don’t claim to have much if any — it’s because I tend to watch a lot of baseball.

All of that said, if anyone can explain to me how Adam Jones is a better outfielder than Mike Trout, J.J. Hardy is a better shortstop than Brendan Ryan and Jimmy Rollins is a better shortstop than Brandon Crawford — who wasn’t even nominated, by the way — I’d really like to hear your arguments.

Otherwise: eh. The Gold Glove voters (i.e. random coaches who watch less of the other 29 baseball teams than most serious baseball fans and dedicated baseball writers do) have had worse years than this.  Years so bad that, by this point, it’s silly to even work up any bile over these things. If anything I’m disappointed that the awards weren’t worse because at least then we could have fun with them.

  1. tigers182 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Rafael Palmeiro should of won.

  2. goskinsvt - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Not sure about Jones, but if you were to take Hardy simply from a fielding percentage standpoint, his season ranked 10th in baseball history. I understand there are more advanced statistics that may point to Brendan Ryan having more of an impact on the diamond, but I think there’s a justifiable case for Hardy.

    • dowhatifeellike - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Aside from two misplays in the ALDS, Hardy was rock-solid all season.

    • sabatimus - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Never take any fielder simply on fielding percentage. That’s why Jeter wins gold gloves at shortstop all the time. People who vote on the gold glove don’t take into account all the plays Jeter misses due to his poor range. His DVOA is absolutely terrible. Hardy, however, was excellent.

    • IdahoMariner - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      Hardy was rock-solid.

      But Brendan Ryan was crazy-good, beyond rock solid.

  3. bigleagues - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Hardy over Jeter?! I mean, what has this award come to? Don’t they know that as long as Jeter is still playing he is supposed to win the GG?

    In that vain, I worry that is starting to happen with Cano. Not that Cano isn’t one of the best secondbaseman, because he is. But Pedroia has lost twice to Cano now despite leading in the important metrics and no worse than a draw in the eye test

  4. ezthinking - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Crawford’s boot-fest in the first half must have cost him?

    Ryan’s pathetic excuse for a hitter pollutes even his defense?

    Trout is going to have a full trophy case anyway?

    Phillips tweets too much?

  5. frenchysplatediscipline - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    I don’t hear anyone bitching about Jason Heyward in right filed (probably because no one gives a shit about the gold glove awards anyway), but the NL right fielders must really suck this year.

    Yes Heyward’s defense was much improved, but he HAD to have set a record this year: Most Fly Balls Lost in the Sun by a Gold Glove Winner.

    Look, I am a Braves fan and good for him winning. But every fly ball hit to him in right during a day game or early evening was an adventure.

    That’s what made his catch in the wild card game so impressive – because in the regular season that ball was just as likely to land 10 feet away or hit him as he was to catch it.

    • frenchysplatediscipline - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Oh and I think RF should have been Beltran for simply making one play this year – throwing Beckett out at first…

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      I was getting my response ready Frency. Then I read your last sentence.

  6. hisgirlgotburrelled - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Bobby Abreu won a gold glove. So that’s how much thought is put into outfielders.

    Rollins led the NL in fielding %, had 13 errors compared to Crawford’s 18 in 17 more games, and previously won 3 gold gloves. I don’t think gold glove awards are well thought out and let stuff like past season’s performance and hitting bleed into their decision. And maybe they don’t know about Range Factor.

    With the financial implications they should be a lot more thought out. Or teams should stop agreeing to contracts with incentives for winning a gold glove.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      Heck even the Fielding Bible makes the past performance gaffe. To wit:

      Brett Lawrie was a close third with 83 points. Both Lawrie and Moustakas had a few more runs saved than Beltre this year (20 and 14, respectively, compared to 13 Defensive Runs Saved for Beltre), but it is Beltre’s long time excellence year after year that allowed him to retain the award this year. He has saved the most runs at third base in baseball over the last three years with 45

      WTF? It’s called the 2012 Fielding Bible Awards, NOT the 2010-12 Fielding Awards. You evaluate based on THIS year! Why is that so hard to grasp?

      • sabatimus - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Because the coaches choose not to evaluate that way.

      • paperlions - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        I can answer your WTF. Many of those voting on the FB awards realize that one season is not enough data to accurately measure defensive performance/ability. They also realize that there are a number of shortcomings with the advanced metrics (despite the fact that they are far better than traditional measures). For example, Lawrie’s DRS is inflated by the plays he made while playing shallow RF as Toronto puts on extreme shifts regularly moving him over there.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Only the Lawrie comment makes sense to me somewhat, which doesn’t explain the other one. If Defensive performance can’t be analyzed with one season’s worth of data then WHY give out an award for one season of performance.

      • paperlions - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        There is a question of reliability of one season’s worth of data. If a player posts elite defensive stats year after year, people familiar with those stats are more likely to believe them, whereas, guys that have seasons that appear to be outliers aren’t weighted as heavily until multiple seasons “verify” that he really is an elite defender and it didn’t just represent variation in the measurement.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        Basically I’m not convinced that weighting multiple seasons is a valid reason. It could be that certain metrics aren’t good enough for one season. But a player’s performance CAN be evaluated for one season, whether pitching, hitting or fielding. Those same BTW voted for Trout as the CF winner and he has barely more than season of data.

        Again, an award for a year it’s what you DO for that year, not what you did before. Past performance shouldn’t be some kind of compensator or tie breaker. That’s just poor evaluation.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        If you want to say: “This metric doesn’t give me good enough data to evaluate a player for one season”, then DON’T use it or weigh it appropriately for this one season. But don’t go out and say: “This guy has been doing great for years, while these other guys are fairly new, so I’ll give him the award THIS year.” I find that kind of reasoning faulty and totally unfair to rookies.

      • paperlions - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        The problem is that there is no such thing as a defensive metric that is reliable for one season’s worth of data….there will always be variation in measurement as well as variation in event outcomes that are not reflective of a fielder’s capability.

  7. proudlycanadian - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I am OUTRAGED! Completely OUTRAGED, that Brett Lawrie was not even a finalist. now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can continue to ignore these alleged awards. Coffee anyone?

  8. rockthered1286 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Hardy was a no brainer. As @goskinsvt mentioned, he had a top 10 defensive SS season. His stats remained consistent throughout the entire season, and yes I do think his bat gave him that little extra umph needed.

    Jones… I think the outcry for Trout is more because of the name and the couple of web gems, moreso than overall play. Jones is most remember for his glaring error in game 1 of the ALDS, more than his entire season. Trout is the celebrity. He had some spectacular play but… Jones was mr consistent. That and Trout’s flipping between CF and LF probably didn’t help. It’s like Mary Reynolds being in contention for 1B GG. He had the best defensive play in the last 2 months at 1B, but he didn’t play every game this season at first so it wasn’t even a thought. (Although next year he’ll be taking this award from Tex no doubt).

    Remember Torrey Hunter and Ichiro winning GG after GG? At one point, yes it was skill. But then it became nothing more than the name that won the award, even when their defense dimished. I still remember years when Markakis got shafted when he had hardly an error and lead the league in outfield assists, so in this instance? I’ll gladly take 3 O’s with gold gloves, and all 3 are locked in long term!

    • bmorelikeme - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      Agree with you on Hardy. Incredibly consistent this year. There’s absolutely no flash to his game, but he makes every play look fundamentally easy. Also, hes only locked up through 2013 I believe.

      Gotta disagree on Jones though. He seemed to make alot of mental mistakes this year out in center. I love him as a player, but his defense wasn’t exactly golden this year. Trout should win exclusively because of the HR he stole from Hardy.

      • dowhatifeellike - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        Trout was great but he didn’t play a full season. Jones had the most put-outs of any OF in the last 10 years.

      • dowhatifeellike - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        Jones also played the full 162. No days off.

      • sabatimus - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        What do putouts in other years have to do with THIS year?

      • crackersnap - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        Trout actually had FOUR over-the-wall highlight reel home run robbing plays in 2012, one of which double up a runner on base.

        And even though he played fewer games than Jones (not as if that was his fault), he made more actual put-outs per chances than Jones, so he was more effective on everything that came his way.

        The best line I read all year was from one scribe out of Seattle, who has to see the Angels over and over again. He wrote that when the Angels put both Bourjos and Trout in the same outfield, baseball just becomes unfair to the other team.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      Jones… I think the outcry for Trout is more because of the name and the couple of web gems, moreso than overall play

      You’re kidding right? Jones has -16 BIS DRS. Trout has +23. Granted, TZ DRS has them both at +13, but Jone’s UZR and RngR have been negative for four years running now. Trout is at 15.4 RngR and 11.4 UZR. Trout’s defense is more than just web gems. (If stealing homeruns is a valid stat he led the league with 4 BTW).

      • randallflagg52 - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        Nerd alert!

      • sabatimus - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Nerd alert yes, but accurate. BIS DRS is one of the more important stats, and to put that in perspective, Jeter’s average BIS DRS (over 1200 innings, or about 135 games) since 2003 is a -13.

    • IdahoMariner - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Fielding bible on AL shortstop winner:
      Brendan Ryan is the best defender in baseball. Period. Make that double period. His has saved 67 runs for his teams defensively over the last three years, the highest total among all players. The next highest runs saved total is not even close (Michael Bourn, 51). Ryan led all shortstops in 2012 with 27 runs saved, led in 2011 with 18, and finished second in both 2010 and 2009 with 22 runs saved each year. Seattle recognizes the value of Ryan’s defense, and that’s why they keep putting him out there day after day despite his .194 batting average during the 2012 season. It will be interesting to see if the American League coaches and managers, who vote for the Gold Glove Awards, can look past Ryan’s offense and base their ballot on his defense alone. This has been one of the problems with the Gold Glove voting—a certain amount of offense has always been required for what should be a defense-only award. Gold Glove voting has never allowed for a position player hitting below the Mendoza line to win a Gold Glove. Hopefully Ryan will be the first.

      Hardy is great, and by simple metrics, looks like he might be slightly better in some areas…but applying advanced metrics AND the eyeball test (after multiple seasons of watching him everyday, starting when I realized LaRussa didn’t like him, so I knew he must be good)….Brendan is better.

  9. indaburg - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I don’t know how Jeremy Hellickson won a Gold Glove. I watch as much Rays baseball as anyone, and I don’t see how any Ray was nominated this year. I looked at his defensive stats. The ones I understand seem to be ok but I witnessed him make several unquantifiable mental errors, as young pitchers are prone to do.

  10. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    The gold gloves stopped mattering when Alex Rodriguez stole the award from Mike Bordick, who had one of the more impressive seasons by a short-stop ever. Bordick set a pair of big-league records when he handled 543 chances over 110 consecutive errorless games that year.

    Jones I’m not sure on, but he probably won because he’s made a few highlight type catches, and those things probably do more to sway votes than anything else. Mike Trout will win his share of awards this season. I’m sure he’ll get over it.

    Hardy absolutely deserves it. Watching him day in and day out, and he never fails to impress. Hardy who absolutely eats up anything hit on his side of the ball, led AL shortstops in fielding percentage, putouts and assists. He made only six errors in 779 chances, and his .992 fielding percentage was the highest by an AL shortstop since Mike Bordick in 2002.

    I would have liked to see Mark Reynolds get at least a mention. I know he shouldn’t win it, and I know he spent the first half of the year as a terrible, horrible, cover your eyes third baseman, but after moving to first, his defense upped to gold glove caliber, and that’s a transformation that I think is worthy of a mention at least.

  11. jonirocit - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I agree with you . It so Rediculous anyway that it reminds me of a high school election .

  12. geoknows - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Craig, there are no “nominations” for Gold Gloves. They are voted on by managers and coaches. The finalists were the top three in vote count.

  13. mdpickles - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    What is wrong with JRoll winning the GG? He was the best defensive shortstop in the NL.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      Crawford had better stats in some of the advanced metrics even though JRoll had him beat with less errors. However Crawford completely flattens JRoll in DRS, 12 vs -8.

  14. jeteribarelyknowher - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    If you mention the words “bat” or “hitting” anywhere in a GG award discussion, you are automatically disqualified from having a valid opinion.

  15. echech88 - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Remember when Michael Young won like 2 years ago?

    Baseball awards really do not matter until the people voting are actually continually being informed on means of evaluation and not just going off the same eye tests they learned in little league.

    Also, the rationale that “Mike Trout will win plenty awards in his career” as a reason he shouldn’t win something as a rookie is exactly why this sport is so ass backwards and caught up in narratives over facts.

  16. eagles512 - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Rollins deserved it

  17. wshifflette - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Hardy leads Ryan in all of the following catergories on the season. Hardy is also in the top four for each one. Total Zone Runs as SS, Range Factor/9Inn as SS, Range Factor/Game as SS, Fielding % as SS.

    END OF STORY!

  18. Detroit Michael - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    There should not be any outrage because we all knew before yesterday that the Gold Glove awards are garbage due to a combination of uninformed electorate and poor voting process. No reason to pay any attention to them.

  19. moagecu - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    The stat nerds must be freaking out

    • thereisaparty - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      Stat nerds don’t care about such silly things

    • crackersnap - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Anybody who relegates what Mike Trout does on a baseball field to “stat nerd” pigeon holes is going to miss one of the finest Major League Baseball careers of our lifetime.

  20. vallewho - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    The need to change the name of this award – maybe the SHAMwow.

  21. mlblogsbobvipers - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    First off, I agree that the Gold Glove Awards are nothing more than recognition by a group of voters, which makes it an objective award, just like MVP, Cy Young, ROY, etc. There will always be arguments about who should have won over certain players. It’s the nature of the beast.

    And I’ll agree that the “numbers” indicate that Adam Jones wasn’t the best AL center fielder by a long shot. But should another AL center fielder been given the Gold Glove? I don’t believe that’s true and here’s why.

    Unless you were an AL manager or coach during 2012, like me, you didn’t get a vote. Even sport writers don’t get to vote for Gold Glove. Only the people that watch major league players from the dugout get to vote. These voters watched Jones, Trout, Granderson, Brantley, etc. play all season long and an apparent majority of these professional managers and coaches, the people that teach guys like Trout an Jones how to play the game of baseball, selected Adam Jones. I, for one, don’t feel qualified to over-rule their judgment.

    Besides, look at what they consider when selecting their Gold Glove choices. According to the Rawlings Gold Glove Award page on Wikipedia, “ …the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), as voted by the managers and coaches in each league. Managers are not permitted to vote for their own players.”

    When you look at why Adam Jones won the award, you must recognize that the AL managers and coaches that voted for him were judging that Jones had “exhibited superior individual fielding performance” during the season. It does not say he was the statistical best; merely that they felt he performed at superior level above the rest of those being considered. Maybe the fact Jones played 162 games (no other MLB played more than 157 and Trout only 110) at a high-level despite the occasional error influenced their selection? Add in that Jones has had his own share of web gems and I can see why they made Jones their selection.

    • crackersnap - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      First of all, a minor correction: because it is an opinion poll and not based on hard numerical data, it is SUBJECTIVE, not OBJECTIVE.

      But, more to the point, the major flaw in your line of reasoning is the part where you claim “These voters watched…play all season long…the people that teach guys…how to play the game of baseball, selected Adam Jones.” You see, that is where you are incorrect. These are the very few people who do NOT watch all the players in baseball play all season long. Why not? Because during the season these people are massively busy watching the players right under their noses – mostly their own players and, in small doses, the players in the opposite dugout.

      Now, each team DOES have staff which spends a heck of a lot of time viewing all the other players, including nearly every minor league player, but those people are not the coaches on the field. Those people are the scouts and the Front Office staff of the GM and assistant GM. The information they deal with FIRST HAND, is distilled and packaged and presented to the coaching staff. The coaching staff gets the majority of their info on other players second hand, third hand, and filtered.

      So let’s take Trout. He played in only 6 games where the manager and coaches from Baltimore got to see him play first hand. Same with the Yankees, the Rays and the Red Sox. And only 8 games with the Blue Jays. This year, by way of comparison, Jones was seen 18 times by the Yankees, 18 times by the Rays, 18 times by the Red Sox, and 18 times by the Blue Jays. Never mind that he was seen 162 times by the Orioles coaching staff, because they could not vote for him.

      If coaching staffs are going to see a lot of defensive video on other players, it’s predominantly going to be on SportsCenter. Those coaching staffs above, because they are in the Eastern time zone the majority of their time, are going to be asleep when Trout is playing most of his games on the West coast, and asleep when his video highlights finally hit any West coast updated version of SportsCenter.

      Bottom line: the coaching staffs of the Easter Division, to use but one example, saw Adam Jones AT LEAST three times more often in person than they did Mike Trout. And, of course, to further screw this up there is the human tendency to take into consideration past performance, and Jones has been in the Eastern Division with over 700 games under his belt so far. As far as those coaches are concerned, Mike Trout is some kind of media headline novelty. Think Jim Leyland dismissing Trout as “wonderboy”.

      Now consider that The Sporting News uses the votes of GM’s and Assistant GM’s from each team to name their 2012 All-Star Team. Those people, who make their living watching and measuring and comparing ALL players, voted Trout unanimously. We are talking every AL GM and AGM, and every NL GM and AGM. Remember that, because it proves my point that these are the people who are paid to watch and know EVERY player, in BOTH leagues. Not just their own squad. Not just those in their own division or their own time zone. Not just their league. And Trout was the ONLY unanimous vote getter for 2012.

      If you want to point to any experts who are the pros that do watch and do know about every player, look to the staff of the General Manager. THOSE are the people you should not feel qualified to over-rule judgement. Because THOSE are the people who watch more baseball players around the league than you do, and spend more time analyzing performances than you do.

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