Defense, IceBat

Gold Glove Nonsense

So…I was having a pretty good day, woke up, had some coffee, some class, relaxing before a midterm, midterm went well, excellent meal with my one and only, HIMYM, and then one of those naps where you don’t feel entirely groggy/sluggish after waking up (ie – the best kind). And then I turn my head to the daily baseball headlines and find that the Gold Glove Awards, an award for the best defenders in the game (or so you would like to think) for the AL were announced:

NEW YORK (AP)—Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki has won his 10th straight Gold Glove and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has won his fifth overall…

I find it a little hard to believe that Derek Jeter was able to win this award, for the second time in a row. All the news sources point to his efficiency with only 6 errors over the year. Well what about those balls that he couldn’t possibly get to, considering his limited range (meaning he just can’t get to balls that are farther away the way other start shortstops can)? Those balls get scored as hits rather than “Balls Jeter couldn’t get to”.

Also, any advanced defensive metric out there these days answer many questions that can lead us toward comparing fielders. Like how much ground is a shortstop able to cover? Is this due to great timing/instinct or great footwork? How accurate is his arm? How many runs can he save over the course of the year? In any of these metrics, you will find Derek Jeter at the bottom of the list. Guaranteed.

[Satisfied stretch] Much better. Oh wait…the agony didn’t stop there as one particular comment underneath the article made me gag:

Fielding percentage is not the only consideration. Reputation, history, along with intangibles such as really difficult throw outs, and really difficult catches. Outs are not rated on a scale. The runner is either out or safe. But the way a player sacrifices his body to make an out at times is huge and the way a fielder hustles and makes extra effort, although it cannot really be gauged, plays a huge factor in golden glove voting. . And that is how it should be.

Phew. Okay…deep breaths IceBat…it’s going to be alright. Here are some flaws I see in the “general fan’s” comment (I will now refer to him as “Worm”):

  1. Jeter should not win this award off of reputation, or history. Let’s get this right Worm. You want to give Jeter this award because he has won it in the past? This award is designed to recognize a player’s season performance, not what he’s done pre-2010. Why does that matter?
  2. Difficult ground balls and throws CAN be measured. Like I said earlier, we have metrics now that tell us how hard it was to successfully make a defensive play. Lawyered.
  3. Sacrificing his body…hustling and the extra effort. If this should be included in the awards, then holy crap, I would have won. Heck, I work my ass off and make sure I’m the one getting my body beat. Should this count toward assessing how good a ball player I am? Essentially no, because otherwise I would have made it to the big leagues already. Boom. Roasted.

Okay I’m done ranting. But how do we fix this flawed system that is seemingly recognizing the wrong people? I think there’s one solution that would help. Currently, managers and coaches are the ones voting. Because managers get to see fielders play everyday, it’s hard to get those ‘flashy’ plays out of their heads. The spinning, diving and twirling can sway anyone. Thus, we should at least include some writers in the voting process. They vote for the MVP’s and Cy Young’s, why exclude them here? It would allow for at least some voters to base their opinions on numbers and metrics, rather than just video footage.

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