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“Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect”, Pt II
2004-11-04 13:24
by Mike Carminati

Part I

Yesterday, I defended the awarding of a Gold Glove at short to Derek Jeter (with his range can he reach it?) as an uninspired but not terrible choice. After reviewing the rest of the AL winners, I find that Jeter is one of the best chosen

Let's start with the good ones.

Eric Chavez was the clear-cut leader at third and thoroughly deserved another award:

Eric Chavez, Oak3.1010.79313.742.00
Joe Randa, KC2.8730.78823.384.33
Alex Rodriguez, NYY2.39110.78635.815.00
Hank Blalock, Tex2.5080.75655.525.00
Bill Mueller, Bos2.5370.72093.657.00
Corey Koskie, Min2.5660.77942.6117.00
Chone Figgins, Ana2.37120.74274.437.33
Casey Blake, Cle2.6450.718103.577.33
Brandon Inge, Det2.9720.710113.197.33
Melvin Mora, Bal2.8340.74662.4127.33
Joe Crede, CWS2.4390.74183.198.67
Eric Hinske, Tor2.40100.707123.659.00

Kenny Rogers was very good choice for the pitcher award—now, if we are already talking about the Gold Glove at pitcher, you know that their choices are in trouble. Note that no pitchers were awarded any Fielding Win Shares this year:

Miguel Batista, Tor2.1781.00014.50
Mark Buehrle, CWS2.4640.97965.00
Kenny Rogers, Tex2.7630.97875.00
Freddy Garcia, CWS/Sea2.06101.00015.50
Sidney Ponson, Bal2.04111.00016.00
Jake Westbrook, Cle3.0510.962116.00
Mike Maroth, Det1.99121.00016.50
Ryan Drese, Tex1.99121.00016.50
Jon Garland, CWS2.3260.97687.00
Tim Hudson, Oak2.3450.963107.50
Derek Lowe, Bos3.0120.907137.50
Javier Vazquez, NYY2.0990.97099.00
Mark Mulder, Oak2.2770.955129.50

Rogers looks like a decent choice, why not?

OK, let's look at the outfield where the three awards are given en masse as opposed to one per outfield position. It was a mixed bag. Here are the candidates by position. We'll talk afterwards:

Vernon Wells, Tor2.6330.91225.143.00
Mark Kotsay, Oak2.5760.89335.923.67
Rocco Baldelli, TB3.0310.88265.143.67
Torii Hunter, Min2.5950.89045.334.00
Aaron Rowand, CWS2.6330.92114.284.00
Randy Winn, Sea2.9220.88854.664.33
Johnny Damon, Bos2.5470.87977.115.00
Laynce Nix, Tex2.3280.84984.377.67
Carl Crawford, TB2.4910.92214.311.00
Lew Ford, Min (LF-CF)2.2430.90324.222.33
Carlos Lee, CWS2.0660.87543.544.67
Larry Bigbie, Bal2.1350.89433.175.00
Jose Guillen, Ana2.1440.84363.265.33
Raul Ibanez, Sea2.2520.86752.3105.67
Eric Byrnes, Oak1.8590.83173.936.33
Matt Lawton, Cle2.0080.79893.457.33
Hideki Matsui, NYY2.0270.82982.787.67
Manny Ramirez, Bos1.67100.750102.789.33
Gary Matthews Jr., Tex (RF-CF)2.5810.91224.521.67
Jacque Jones, Min2.3240.87944.813.00
Vladimir Guerrero, Ana2.3430.87163.744.33
Ichiro Suzuki, Sea2.4620.86383.655.00
Jose Cruz Jr., TB2.2350.87853.465.33
Kevin Mench, Tex (RF-LF)2.2070.86474.435.67
Bobby Higginson, Det2.1780.91511.9106.33
Jermaine Dye, Oak1.99100.91223.286.67
Jody Gerut, Cle2.2260.86093.377.33
Gary Sheffield, NYY2.1590.856102.599.33

I would have given the awards out per position to Vernon Wells, Carl Crawford, and Jacque Jones (Gary Matthews Jr. played a lot of center skewing his results). They gave the awards to Wells (great), Torii Hunter (not bad), and Ichiro Suzuki (very bad).

Now, if they are going to give the awards to outfielders as a whole, then why not just pick the best three center fielders? If so, Hunter is still borderline.

However, there's the right fielder, Ichiro, who got his award because of his cannon of an arm. Well, he does have a great arm, but it's not so unique so as to win the award solely based on it while ignoring his otherwise mediocre stats for right fielder.

Here are the various outfielders from above with at least 10 assists:

Mark Kotsay, Oak117.89%3.02%40.32%1.10%0.984
Rocco Baldelli, TB119.46%3.05%20.19%0.55%0.978
Carlos Lee, CWS117.75%3.75%20.16%0.68%1.000
Raul Ibanez, Sea109.48%4.15%30.32%1.24%0.983
Vladimir Guerrero, Ana139.48%3.94%20.16%0.61%0.973
Ichiro Suzuki, Sea127.69%3.10%20.14%0.52%0.992
Jose Cruz Jr., TB106.91%3.01%00.00%0.00%0.970
Bobby Higginson, Det1311.95%5.37%10.10%0.41%0.975
Gary Sheffield, NYY118.40%3.85%30.25%1.05%0.983

The only stat in which Ichiro excels is fielding percentage. Great! Give him a Gold Glove!

After outfield it gets pretty ugly. Who's on first? Darrin Erstad an erstwhile center fielder who is being saved from himself at first.

Mark Teixeira, Tex9.6320.85922.811.67
Carlos Delgado, Tor9.7810.85831.932.33
Darin Erstad, Ana8.8990.85142.325.00
Scott Hatteberg, Oak9.6130.82791.755.67
Tino Martinez, TB8.84100.87811.586.33
Doug Mientkiewicz, Bos/Min9.4350.85141.1106.33
Ben Broussard, Cle9.4350.826101.756.67
Carlos Pena, Det9.4640.83371.396.67
Paul Konerko, CWS9.3870.808111.937.00
Rafael Palmeiro, Bal9.3780.82881.677.67
John Olerud, NYY/Sea8.56110.84960.7119.33

Like Jeter, Erstad is an uninspired choice. He's not terrible but there are distinctly better candidates and a ton that are just about as good. So why Erstad? Well, he ran into walls as a Gold Glove outfielder; surely he's better than the junk they stick at first, right? Well, no. Like the Ichiro choice, this was just rewarding Erstad's reputation not his actual performance.

Clearly Mark Teixeira was the class of the position. It's too bad that they go on reputation alone. Consider that Erstad's assists and doubleplay numbers were abysmal, and his candidacy plummets further:

Mark Teixeira, Tex9872.12%7.44%1149.32%8.65%0.992
Carlos Delgado, Tor8876.29%7.76%989.44%8.64%0.996
Darin Erstad, Ana6655.77%6.25%837.79%7.86%0.996
Scott Hatteberg, Oak8660.47%6.25%13510.55%9.80%0.993
Tino Martinez, TB6762.86%7.08%858.86%8.99%0.997
Doug Mientkiewicz, Bos/Min6259.35%6.26%757.98%7.57%0.995
Ben Broussard, Cle7768.00%7.17%10810.60%10.06%0.994
Carlos Pena, Det7759.79%6.29%12811.04%10.45%0.995
Paul Konerko, CWS7960.40%6.40%13611.55%11.02%0.995
Rafael Palmeiro, Bal9575.18%7.97%11410.02%9.56%0.993
John Olerud, NYY/Sea7766.31%7.73%928.80%9.24%0.998

He does have a good fielding percent, which is probably the least meaningful stat for a first baseman, even more so than for most other fielders.

Next, the choice of Bret Boone at second was quite possibly the worst of the day. Boone ranks behind part-time players. He is tied for 16th in 14-team league by my rankings:

Orlando Hudson, Tor5.8010.83046.612.00
Jose Uribe, CHW5.2140.792145.837.00
Adam Kennedy, Ana4.72130.84725.067.00
Alfonso Soriano, Tex5.2430.799104.887.00
Marco Scutaro, Oak5.0480.799105.747.33
Luis Rivas, Min5.1650.781166.527.67
Mark Bellhorn, Bos4.64140.84334.978.00
Willie Harris, CHW5.1650.82284.1118.00
Rey Sanchez, TB5.0670.89812.6168.00
Ronnie Belliard, Cle4.80120.82464.888.67
Tony Graffanino, KC5.7720.80492.7158.67
Miguel Cairo, NYY4.94100.795135.159.33
Enrique Wilson, NYY4.83110.82553.3129.33
Brian Roberts, Bal4.50150.82374.31010.67
Omar Infante, Det5.0480.799123.31210.67
Mark McLemore, Oak4.28170.743172.81416.00
Bret Boone, Sea4.33160.790152.11716.00
Again, a young player, Orlando Hudson, was robbed. However, they could have picked a dozen vets better than Boone. This has to go down with Palmeiro is one of the worst choices of all time. At least in 1999 when Palmeiro played just 28 games at first and won the award, he was still a decent first baseman, and even if he wasn't, how much damage could he have done in 28 games? Boone was a liability at second all year, and yet he gets rewarded with a Gold Glove for his non-efforts. Finally, we have Ivan Rodriguez, who was awarded his eleventh award as a catcher, the most ever at the position breaking his tie with Johnny Bench. Bench should be aghast if he can tear himself away from spray painting things—"No hits, no runs, no errors." I'm sorry to blast an icon and future Hall-of-Famer but I calls as I sees 'em. Pudge was a great catcher, but there is nothing that indicates that he still is in 2004. I have added Catcher ERA and stolen base percentage to my rankings. Here goes:
Damian Miller,Oak7.00101.00017.910.43234.2433.60
Jason Varitek,Bos7.8721.00014.670.23154.1825.40
Henry Blanco,Min7.5340.833144.760.49214.2545.80
Javy Lopez,Bal7.3961.00015.240.277104.67106.20
Jose Molina, Ana8.2010.857133.9110.48924.3156.40
Rod Barajas,Tex6.73121.00014.380.34454.576.60
Toby Hall,TB6.44141.00015.330.34364.72117.00
Bengie Molina,Ana7.7130.889114.950.261134.3157.40
Jorge Posada,NYY7.2571.00014.290.272124.6597.60
Dan Wilson,Sea7.0680.889115.920.33374.83138.20
Miguel Olivo,CWS/Sea6.39151.00012.7150.34744.5388.60
Gregg Zaun,Tor6.76111.00013.6140.277104.76129.60
Victor Martinez,Cle7.5251.00013.7130.252144.98159.60
Adam Melhuse, Oak6.71130.800153.8120.32584.0519.80
Ivan Rodriguez,Det7.0490.933104.290.32294.861410.20

Pudge was 15th in a 14-team league. Again there is a clear-cut leader in Damian Miller. Unlike the other snubs, He's an eight-year veteran. However, he's new to the AL and he doesn't get much press from his offense.

Even Pudge's reputation for having the best catching arm in baseball is no longer deserved. He was ninth in the AL in catching base stealers, and he was much closer to the bottom of the league than the top. Again, the voters went solely on reputation.

Here is my Gold Glove team based on the players' performance and not rep:

C—Damian Miller, Oak
1B—Mark Teixeira, Tex
2B—Orlando Hudson, Tor
SS—Bobby Crosby, Oak & Miguel Tejada, Bal (shared)
3B—Eric Chavez, Oak
LF—Carl Crawford, TB
CF—Vernon Wells, Tor
RF—Jacque Jones, Min
P—Kenny Rogers, Tex (based on more total chances than Batista and fewer errors than Buehrle)

I took two from the actual winner's list, one's a pitcher, and he's basically a toss-up winner. I think that a defense based on the actual players picked would be about an average AL defense, no better and possibly worse (given the weakness at second and catcher, key defensive positions).

Maybe it's time to cease and desist when it comes to the Gold Glove awards at least in the AL. Either that or the voters should at least look at actual performance of the players involved and not go on reputation. I mean, Al Kaline and Willie Mays were great fielders once too, but they're not getting the hardware anymore and they probably deserved it more in 2004 than Bret Boone.

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