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Awards 2009: The Gold Gloves

November 23, 2009

Franklin Gutierrez was the best defensive outfielder in baseball in 2009, yet he did not receive a Gold Glove.

The Gold Glove Awards were handed out a little while ago.  I’ve been a bit behind in posting thanks to an overwhelming amount of work, but hopefully I can catch up.  In any case, here are my votes for the Gold Glove winners in 2009.  I should mention (although at this point it should practically be a given) that I’m basing these awards on defensive statistics, not “gut feeling” or personal opinion.  That being said—I may not agree with the results; I’m simply posting them.

I’m using a weighted average of UZR and Plus/Minus.  It would probably be best if I included the Fans’ Scouting Report in here, but I think this method works just fine.  And I’d rather use a rating system based on actual performance in a certain amount of opportunities than a rating system based on physical tools.  So first, the Junior Circuit:

Pitcher: Mark Buerhle, +11

Actual: Mark Buerhle (+11).  I think the voters did a fine job here.


Catcher: Gerald Laird, +13

Actual: Joe Mauer (+6). I wrote about Mauer’s year behind the plate, and there’s nothing wrong with that selection.  On paper (at least through my metric), Laird was the better defensive catcher.

First Base: Kendry Morales, +5

Actual: Mark Teixeira (-3).  Yankee fans threw a fit when Teixeira was rated a below-average fielder by UZR this year, citing the countless runs he saved by virtue of his ability to save errant throws.  Be that as it may, you’re generally looking at a maximum of +4 runs saved, and that wasn’t enough to bring him up to Morales’ level.  By my rough measurements, Teixeira saved two runs by preventing throwing errors.  Morales? Four.  Teixeira looks smooth, and relative to Jason Giambi, he’s fantastic.  But he just didn’t have the year people think he did defensively.  This isn’t to say that he’s not a good defensive first baseman; just that Morales provided more value.

Second Base: Ian Kinsler, +13

Actual: Placido Polanco (+10). Polanco’s a good choice, and he would have won it had I not included Plus/Minus, which absolutely loved Kinsler’s 2009.  You could argue that Polanco is more deserving and I wouldn’t disagree with you.

Third Base: Chone Figgins, +20

Actual: Evan Longoria (+18). To be honest, I’m a bit bummed out to see Figgins win it over Longoria (my favorite non-Giant).  Again, Plus/Minus loved Figgins’ performance in the field this year, and that’s what ultimately pushed him ahead.

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, +12

Actual: Derek Jeter (+5). I wasn’t happy to see Jeter win the award.  Despite his improvement in the field, Andrus was far more deserving.  But it doesn’t come to much of a surprise to see Jeter win the award again.  It’s almost to be expected at this point.  Adam Everett (+8) would have been a better choice than Jeter, but I’m sure you knew that already.

Left Field: Carl Crawford, +19

Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez, +30

Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki, +11

Actual: Torii Hunter (+1), Adam Jones (-2), Ichiro Suzuki (+11).  The voters have a tendency to go for center fielders over corner positions, and I think that’s a poor oversight on their part.  It’s important to recognize each individual position even if the distribution of talent isn’t equal.  There’s a bunch of defensive liabilities in left field, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t award the best of the bunch for his skills.  I feel bad for Franklin Gutierrez—he wins my “Adam Everett Award,” which I give out to the best defensive player in the game to not be recognized for his stellar glovework.

And now for the Senior Circuit:

Pitcher: Joel Pineiro, +5

Actual: Adam Wainwright (-1). He may not have won the Cy Young, but at least he got a Gold Glove.  Looks like his teammate was the better defender all along.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, +13

Actual: Yadier Molina (+13). The best defensive catcher in baseball; no doubt about it.

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, +6

Actual: Adrian Gonzalez, (+6). Voters got this one right as well.  Not only is A-Gon becoming one of the premier hitters in the game, he’s becoming one of the better glovemen around as well.  The Padres would get a remarkable package for him should they decide to move him.

Second Base: Chase Utley, +11

Actual: Orlando Hudson (-1).  Poor Utley; he’s extremely underrated with the glove.  Hudson won this award based purely on his reputation, not on the value he actually provided.

Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman, +19

Actual: Ryan Zimmerman (+19). Zimmerman’s just amazing with the glove.

Shortstop: Rafael Furcal, +8

Actual: Jimmy Rollins (+2).  Another reputation-based award.  J-Roll is a fine defender, but Furcal outperformed him easily.  The voters didn’t make a bad choice, but there were certainly better options.

Left Field: Raul Ibanez, +8

Center Field: Michael Bourn, +9

Right Field: Justin Upton, +8

Actual: Matt Kemp (+2), Shane Victorino (-5), Michael Bourn (+9).  Any list that has Raul Ibanez in it praising his defensive performance doesn’t look right—but keep in mind that his rating is relative to the average defender at his position.  He’s not a good defensive player by any means, but he provided more value in left field than the average left fielder.

That about wraps up this portion of my “awards” series—I’m not sure how I’ll do the next few.  I get the feeling that I’ll be lumping a few awards together.

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