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"Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect"
2004-11-03 13:49
by Mike Carminati

—Ancient Chinese proverb, huh?

Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?


This yellow slave

Will knit and break religions, bless th’ accursed,

Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves,

And give them title, knee and approbation

With senators on the bench

—William "Author" Shakespeare, "Timon (and Pumbaa) of Athens"

Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.

—Abraham "Nunez" Lincoln

Gold and iron are good

To buy iron and gold.

But every jet(er) of chaos which threatens to exterminate us is convertible by intellect into wholesome force. Fate is unpenetrated causes.

—Ralph Walt Dropo Emerson

The sabermetric community will be up in arms today, well maybe after the dust settles from the "election." The unthinkable has happened. They gave a Gold Glove to…no, not Rafael Palmeiro again for playing two dozen games at his position…no, not to David Ortiz and his magic glove through which balls pass untouched…No. They awarded the Gold Glove at shortstop to Derek Jeter!?!?

Do I mean the Derek Jeter who is rated by some as the worst defensive shortstop of all time? Bill James gave him a D for his defensive play in Win Shares (or maybe it was a D+). What, so who just inherits the award since last year's winner Alex Rodriguez ceded the shortstop position to him in the Bronx?

Well, before every gets up in arms, let me just say two things. First, yes, Jeter is not the most inspired choice. I would have gone with Tejada or Crosby. However, he isn't a terrible choice. Jeter was about an average shortstop this year, maybe a little bit better. He would win the most improved category if they had it.

Here's a comparison of the "eligible" candidates first by conventional stats sorted by fielding stats (yeah, I know):

Bobby Crosby, Oak1356766242505191070.975
Miguel Tejada, Bal1421814264526241180.971
Jose Valentin, CWS102557918637320850.965
Julio Lugo, TB123868323642225910.963
Cristian Guzman, Min1304686234440121030.983
Derek Jeter, NYY134167827339213960.981
Carlos Guillen, Det115165321941717900.974
Omar Vizquel, Cle124560720039611910.982
David Eckstein, Ana11915131983096750.988
Michael Young, Tex138666722542319980.972
Angel Berroa, KC114362420738928940.955

Now, here's the same group with Range Factor (source: ESPN), Zone Rating (ESPN), and Fielding Win Shares (The Hardball Times) added in. Each player is ranked by each of these categories and then ranked overall by the average of those ranks:

Bobby Crosby, Oak4.96030.87027.522.33
Miguel Tejada, Bal5.00010.86137.232.33
Jose Valentin, CWS4.91040.87816.163.67
Julio Lugo, TB4.78050.84856.755.00
Cristian Guzman, Min4.65070.82399.615.67
Derek Jeter, NYY4.46080.84767.235.67
Carlos Guillen, Det4.97020.83785.286.00
Omar Vizquel, Cle4.31090.84074.598.33
David Eckstein, Ana3.830110.85944.3108.33
Michael Young, Tex4.210100.810105.879.00
Angel Berroa, KC4.69060.778114.2119.33

So Jeter is basically in the middle of the pack behind the two front runners (Crosby and Tejada). He's not bad, but really no standout either.

However, I must point out that he's a stellar choice compared to a couple of the outfield choices and don't get me started with Bret Boone at second, but I'll get into them later. I think it's safe to say that the voters very often pick the wrong candidate, 'nuff sed?

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