No love for Melvin MoraYesterday, the 2007 Rawlings Gold Glove winners were announced. But to us here at UmpBump, they looked more like fools’ gold than the real, 24-karat deal.  The official winners:

AL: 1B Kevin Youkilis; 2B Placido Polanco; SS Orlando Cabrera; 3B Adrian Beltre; OF Grady Sizemore, Torii Hunter, and Ichiro Suzuki; C Ivan Rodriguez; P Johan Santana.

NL: 1B Derrek Lee; 2B Orlando Hudson; SS Jimmy Rollins; 3B David Wright; OF Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones, and (tied) Aaron Rowand and Jeff Francoeur; C Russell Martin; P Greg Maddux.

After some heated emailing late yesterday and early today, UmpBump staff has agreed that most of this hardware got misdirected (shocking!). Who got overlooked and who deserved it? Let’s go posish-by-posish, league by league, deserving by undeserving.

American League

Deserving: First base has been ably commanded by Kevin Youkilis this year, who did not make a single error in the regular season. In fact, he hasn’t made a regular-season error at first base since July of 2006. That is hot. Now, we know that errors aren’t the most accurate measure of defensive ability—they are a flawed stat that measures what didn’t happen, instead of what did happen—but that’s a remarkable streak and deserves to be recognized. And, as Red Sox manager Terry Francona mentioned, it’s only Youk’s first full year at the position! That makes this award a remarkable upset, since these things are usually so politicized. (Paul adds that a case could be made for Casey Kotchman.) Also deserving, in my view, is shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who finally (finally!) ousts Derek Jeter from his undeserved status as the voters’ perpetual favorite. And though Placido Polanco doesn’t have as much range as some of the other second basemen in the league (namely, as Paul points out, Mark Ellis), he also put up an errorless season, which earns him a tip of the hat (or in this case, glove).

No love for Coco Crisp.Undeserving: The most egregious inclusion is third baseman Adrian Beltre: even if you don’t look at his fancier defensive stats (which the managers and coaches who vote on this almost certainly don’t), the man still made 18 errors this season! (Coming the year after Mike Lowell was snubbed, making just 6 errors at third, this is just rubbing salt in the wound. Big grains of salt.) This year, I would have gone with Melvin Mora. Paul didn’t think Beltre was a terrible choice, but adds, “Brandon Inge has a right to be pissed.” Speaking of a right to be pissed, how about the outfielders? One thing that has always annoyed me is the way the outfielders are chosen, at-large instead of position-by-position (same with All-Star balloting). In my view,  right to left, the best defensive outfield in the AL would be composed of Mark Teahen (tons of assists), Coco Crisp (duh), and Carl Crawford (Rays never get any love). Some (Coley and Paul) felt that Curtis Granderson had been snubbed, but I submit that while his range is similar to Coco’s, he also made 5 errors to Coco’s 1. In the at-large system, though, he’d get my nod over Crawford. Sizemore and Hunter aren’t *bad* in the outfield, but they clearly don’t have the defensive ability that Granderson and Crisp do. And finally, the battery: I would have gone with youngun Fausto Carmona, who actually fielded his position quite well this year. Despite a few bobbles, he got to more balls than most other starting pitchers. As for Pudge Rodriguez’s inclusion on the list, that’s just force of habit on the part of the voters—I think Victor Martinez actually deserved it more.

National League

Deserving: There’s nothing wrong with picking Carlos Beltran. Russell Martin caused us some pause, but ultimately fell into the “deserving” camp. Though he had the most errors of any NL catcher this season, he also had the most caught-stealing, double-plays, and assists.

And no love for Curtis GrandersonUndeserving: Derek Lee was the clearest outlier on the list. We thought Todd Helton had it locked up. (In fact, despite setting an MLB record for team fielding percentage this season, the Rockies didn’t get a single Gold Glove.) Pujols would have been a respectable choice at first, as well. At second, Orlando Hudson isn’t a terrible choice, but Chase Utley or even Freddie Sanchez would have been better. At shortstop, even Philly Phanatic Coley couldn’t support giving the trophy to Jimmy Rollins over Troy Tulowitzki, who was pretty much our unanimous selection. Continuing around the infield, David Wright’s win at third base gives him more leverage to stay at his position if A-Rod becomes a Met, but did he really deserve it? I think Paul spoke for all of us when he said, “How can you deny Pedro Feliz??” In the outfield, despite naming four winners because of a tie between Rowand and Francoeur, the voters still managed to leave out some key names. In my view, Francoeur has no business being on that list, and Rowand’s presence is debatable. Nick nominates Kearns and Holliday to the list of contending outfielders, and possibly Soriano.  As for the pitchers, well, is anyone surprised when Maddux wins anymore? Certainly not Nick, who agreed with that pick. But Paul wrote, “Any guy who votes for Greg Maddux is just plain lazy.” Let me put it this way: Maddux isn’t a bad pick. But Tim Hudson might have been a better one.

6 Responses to “The Rawlings Pyrite Glove Awards”

  1. One guy that probably got robbed and wasn\’t mentioned here is Yadier Molina. He is arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball. I do have to defend the choice of Derrek Lee as he is a superior defender at 1st. He not only fields balls that most guys wouldn\’t get to but picks throws that save his team outs day in and day out. I believe he got votes because opponents saw him make plays that other guys just don\’t make.

  2. At risk of sounding like an angry Cards fan (I am), I’d have to agree with Melissa. I was shocked when I heard Molina didn’t win! He’s been throwing out close to 50% of would be base stealers almost 3 years running.

    Can I say cannon?

  3. Joe and Melissa, you’re right.We should have mentioned Molina. Not only does he excel at throwing out baserunners, he may be the most fluid catcher I’ve seen in a long time. Consider him a casualty of the “doesn’t hit so he doesn’t spring to voters’ minds” flaw of the Golden Gloves.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Well, in fairness, Martin did start 42 more games than Molina…Molina’s 101 starts doesn’t even give him enough at-bats to “qualify,” in stat-parlance.

  5. Molina was selected by Baseball Info Solutions as the best defensive catcher in the major leagues in their Fielding Bible Awards. Evidently the 111 games he appeared in were sufficient to qualify for their “stat” based award. I know the Gold Glove is a more subjective award and just felt his omission was rather glaring and he was eligible. His offense is not pitiful either as he had a respectable .275 average.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Well, everyone has different standards. The point is, he missed about a third of the season. Doug Mientkiewicz is a better defensive first baseman than Youkilis, but he doesn’t get the Gold Glove because he’s not a full-time starter. We should have mentioned Molina in the post as an also-ran, but I can’t say that his performance in *this* particular year makes his exclusion from the Gold Glove a glaring omission.

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