ESPNews released the AL Gold Gloves this afternoon, with the managers and coaches doing their best to not disappoint. If anyone questioned the credibility of this award, they have a perfect amount of fuel now.
C - Joe Mauer
This is a fine pick, but not one that I would spend time debating anyways. Mauer is very athletic, so it doesn't surprise me that he would be one of the top defensive catchers. What bothers me, is that during ESPNews' presentation, they kept harping on Mauer winning the AL batting title.
1B - Carlos Pena
This one is fine, although I imagine the difference has to do with Pena's bat. That said, I have no problem if the voters are using hitting as a tie breaker. Although I would take a look at team fielding first.
That is, consider what a top fielder can do to the players around him. Adding a top defensive short stop can allow a third basemen to shade the left field line a little more.
2B - Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia winning this award must signal something. Either the total and utter disregard for defensive measures, or Pedroia not winning the American League MVP. While one shouldn't have an affect on another, it does. Pedroia doesn't deserve to be in the top two, despite being a pretty good fielder.
As Sheehan stated yesterday, this is an award that is based on looks. How many times was Mark Ellis on National Television? How many times, during a Sox broadcast are the cameras focused on Pedroia? This award makes sense from that point of view.
3B - Adrian Beltre
Similar to the Pena selection, this one is fine. Beltre makes some careless mistakes, but he also gets to some balls that no other third basemen should.
SS - Michael Young
This isn't as terrible as the Pedroia selection, although it is close! But in a different way. Where Ellis was the obvious choice for the second base award, Pedroia is a solid fielder. Young, on the other hand is terrible! He does, however, benefit from playing a position where there isn't a clear cut winner-well, an obvious clear cut winner.
The fact remains that the Rangers would prefer to not have Young playing short stop for the foreseeable future. However, his bat has slipped so much that it would hurt more to have him as a league average fielding third basemen as the offensive expectations are much higher then they are at short.
The silver lining, at least Derek Jeter didn't win.
LF - Grady Sizemore
This is where the system is entirely flawed. If Sizemore was a left fielder, he would presumably win this award. However, he isn't. The same way that Francisco Rodriguez isn't a starting pitcher, and subsequently does not qualify for any pitching titles.
That said, it is disappointing that Sizemore is listed as the worst of the Gold Glove outfielders, despite obviously being the best.
CF - Torri Hunter
Terrible. Absolutely terrible. The problem is, Hunter is a pretty good fielder. But handing him this award based on reputation and a 'perfect fielding percentage' (really-impressive, but who cares) adds reason to disregard the Gold Gloves altogether.
Oh, and the fact that 2008's best defensive outfielder was clearly Carlos Gomez, who replaced Hunter. This is arguably the worst pick of the entire award, although not many people will raise a hand to question it based on Hunter's reputation.
RF - Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro does not deserve this, although like Sizemore and Hunter, he is at least a good fielder. His reputation and offensive production is the reason why he is again given this award.
The AL's outfield isn't in as much of shambles as the NL is, so I cannot harp too long. At least the league's worst minus defender didn't win a Gold Glove as occurred with Nate McLouth (who actually ranked dead last in all of baseball).
P - Mike Mussina
This doesn't really matter to me. Mussina won, presumably based on tradition and after having a surprisingly strong season. The award should have went to DJF favoUrite chubby ginger, Jesse Litsch.
Joe Sheehan, of Baseball Prospectus again on ESPNews, reiterates the fact that players are winning awards with their bats and reputations. He agrees with my assertion that Ellis and Gomez are certainly worthy of the Gold Glove this year.
The award is in shambles and the voting process needs to be reevaluated. I'm not sure how much longer this can go on before people simply ignore the award altogether. A rogue Gold Glove by a competing baseball mit company could be a start to shaking up the awards top to bottom.