bringin' home the gold-plated paw pads

photo by Samara Pearlstein

I was going to photoshop an image for this post, but then I realized that hey, I already have some shots of the two Tigers Gold Glove winners from this past season! They’re even standing together! My life today shall be easy!

Your American League Gold Glove winners are as follows:

C Pudge Rodriguez, Tigers
1B Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
2B Placido Polanco, Tigers
3B Adrian Beltre, Mariners
SS Orlando Cabrera, Angels
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
OF Torii Hunter, Twins
OF Grady Sizemore, Racist Logos
P Johan Santana, Twins

The Tigers, Mariners and Twins each had 2 Gold Glovers. Lots of teams, obviously, didn’t have any, although it brings me particular joy to note that there’s not a single Wrong Sock on there, nor are there any Yankees (in fact, Youk is the only rep for the entire AL East).

We can probably chalk Pudge’s win up to reputation. He didn’t have a BAD year, defensively, but it wasn’t exactly mind-boggling. Defensive statistics should always be regarded with surly suspicion, but for catchers who worked 100+ games this year he was behind Kenji Johjima, AJ Pierzynski, Victory Martinez, Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek in fielding percentage. Very few guys stole bases off of him (although Johjima’s got him beat by one in that category). He’s second in put-outs only to Varitek.

Actually, the more I look at this, the more I wonder why Johjima didn’t win. Practically nobody stole on him, and he threw out almost as many guys as he didn’t get (40 caught vs. 47 stolen). He made only 2 errors (!!) in 133 games. He had 805 put-outs, which is good for 4th overall. So… am I missing something important?

I love Pudge, don’t get me wrong, but he seems to have won this year because he’s Pudge, not because he blew everyone else out of the defensive water. Maybe the Gold Glove awarders wanted to give him one last prize before he finally aged 100 years in a single season and dissolved into dust.

Placido Polanco won the Gold Glove at second because he is lovely and amazing. He is the only second baseman this year to play in 100+ games and end the year with a perfect fielding percentage. Nary an error, kids and kittens. Prostrate yourselves before his glory.

Since Pudge robbed Johjima of a Gold Glove, I guess it’s only fitting that Adrian Beltre should rob Brandon Inge of a Gold Glove at third. I was all prepared to defend Inge’s high error total again in the usual way, but then I checked and it turns out that he has THE EXACT SAME NUMBER OF ERRORS on the season (18) as Beltre. Their range factors (which don’t really describe ‘range’ in the sense that I mean it when I talk about the amount of ground a player can cover) for the season are practically the same. So why does Beltre deserve it over Inge, who surely has a larger ACTUAL range even if his RF doesn’t indicate that, eh?

I think you could probably make an argument for Maggs or Granderson in the outfield too. But there’s no point in getting riled up about something we should be HAPPY about, especially for Polanco, since it’s still new and exciting to him. Pudge will get the trophy and put it on a shelf where it’ll immediately disappear into the mass of Gold Gloves already there, like how a zebra uses its stripes to merge into a herd and thus avoid detection.

Sidenote: I emailed Chris McCosky about his article on Sunday night and still haven’t heard a peep. It’s now late Tuesday (or early Wednesday, depending on your outlook). I was willing to cut him some slack because it was the weekend. As every weekday goes by the slack gets taken up and I get more annoyed that someone says they have the ‘courage’ to see those they write about face to face, but can’t even work up the ‘courage’ to respond to a few simple emails. Grrrr.


6 responses to “bringin' home the gold-plated paw pads

  1. Two things: Don’t use putouts for catchers as some sort of measuring stick… It’s the catcher that records a putout on every strikeout. That has much more to do with the pitching staff than with the catcher, methinks. Then again, you could make something of the same argument when it comes to stolen bases against (the ability or even willingness of the pitching staff to hold the runners, in other words). Catcher, more than any other position, I think, is more subject to subjective opinion than anything objective.
    Polly definitely deserves one, though.
    Adrian Beltre… (shrug). I’d be interested to see the vote. I’d bet 3rd base was the closest vote of any position.

  2. ivantopumpyouup

    I really despise post-season awards. I kind of think they should come up with a new award for defense that is based on actual defense and not reputations, how popular a player is, how many times he’s won it before, and, ya know, OFFENSE. Alas, that’ll never happen, and I will be left to sit in my dingy basement in my pajamas, grumbling about Inge and Granderson getting jobbed. :P

  3. Royals fan here. How Granderson did not win a Gold Glove is beyond me. Not fair. Sizemore gets all the love when Granderson had a year about 20 times better.

  4. Jeff, yeah, I realized that as I was posting it… just throwin’ it out there. I guess you could argue that since the catcher has some say in calling the pitches (esp. a veteran catcher like Pudge, or Varitek), he has some part in the strikes. But I agree: I don’t really put much value in ANY defensive stats for catchers, or at least not as much as I do for hitting or pitching. Which is annoying. Someone needs to get on that!
    ivan, you!!! BASEMENT!! PAJAMAS!! YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!!! (or should that be ‘us’?) Hee. And, yeah, the awards are given out unfairly but the Gold Gloves especially are tough ’cause, like I said, defensive statistics are so blah.
    Gene, I don’t know. There’s going to be a lot of wondering in Tigertown about that one. I mean, jeez, even if you ignore the numbers, Sizemore isn’t even the prettier outfielder. :P

  5. Hey, I made a shirt.
    Keep up the good bloggin.

  6. You know, Alexander Cartwright’s original baseball rules stated that each side would get 3 outs per inning, and the teams would play until an inning ended with one team having scored more than 21 runs (and not tied, of course). Think about it… In that scenario, defensive statistics would be vastly more valuable, not to mention understandable… Because the number of outs in each game would be almost unlimited. Instead, we’ve capped the number of outs per game, and we concentrate on offensive statistics, because it’s the number of runs that is unlimited by any rule (but is limited by your competition). As long as the number of outs are limited to 27 per game, the measuring of defense will necessarily be limited.
    Tip of the cap to Bill James, by the way.

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