Yesterday, 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.
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).
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.
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.
Undeserving: 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.