Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008 National League Gold Gloves

The Rawlings Gold Glove awards are given to those who displayed the leagues most superior fielding, as voted on by managers and coaches-not the BBWAA as I previously mentioned. Each year there are snubs as well as votes given to players who are certainly not deserving of, and this year did not disappoint.

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus was on ESPNews' The Hot List this afternoon, and asserted that often times players are given credit for what they did with their bat. In addition to this, according to Sheehan, is a 'viewed' award as much as it statistical. He did not claim this to be an entirely accurate perspective, rather, he suggested that the best defensive player may not win an award simply due to not doing anything flashy, or having fewer opportunities.

Here's who the managers and coaches gave their awards out to for the National League this season:

C - Yadier Molina

As I mentioned in the 'Shoulda' Awards, I'm not going to go through and judge a catcher. Molina seems like a fine choice to me.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez

This is bordering on criminal. Probably the biggest mistake of the National League Gold Glove award was not handing this one to Albert Pujols, but making this worse, and nearly discrediting the worth of the Gold Gloves altogether, was giving this to Adrian Gonzalez.

By all rights, Gonzalez should win this award. He is probably the most athletic first basemen in the National League. If not the most, then second behind Derek Lee. The Fielding Bible doesn't rank Gonzalez in the top 4, while The Hardball Times ranks Gonzalez as the 10th best fielding first basemen. This was clearly all about fielding percentage, where Gonzalez ranks as the best National League first basemen (tied).

2B - Brandon Phillips

While the voters got this one wrong, it isn't as bad as the Gonzalez vote. Phillips, while a fairly strong fielder, is still a little bit worse then Chase Utley. But Phillips, like Derek Jeter, finds his way onto highlight reels all of the time and is a flashy fielder.

3B - David Wright

I can understand giving this award to Wright. Ryan Zimmerman missing nearly half the season certainly put him at a disadvantage. Wright makes more flashy plays and is on a team that more people pay attention to. If I was picking the best defensive third basemen in the National League, either one would suffice.

I wonder how much of Wright winning this award is based on his reputation?

SS - Jimmy Rollins

The voters got this one correct. Good on them. The issue, however, is that the voters are probably going to keep giving this award to Rollins based on reputation.

Here is where the Gold Glove Award has another major flaw. Voters are told to group outfielders in a single cluster. This is clearly flawed, as an outfield with the three best center fielders would not obviously be superior then an outfield with the three best fielders at their respective positions. It is what it is, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

ESPNews aligned the outfield winners as I will list.

RF - Shane Victorino

Victorino had a phenomenal season in center this year. It was specifically phenomenal considering it was his first shot at the position. Even if we simply list the three best outfielders, there is no way to rate him ahead of Chris Young. Unless of course we are considering a players contributions with their bat.

CF - Carlos Beltran

Similar to Phillips and Wright, I am fine with giving this award to Beltran. I do not believe he is the best candidate, but he's one of the top two or three, so it's close. Playing in a big market on a big stage, he is clearly going to be seen more frequently. He is also a veteran with a reputation as an excellent fielder. Having a great bat doesn't hurt in the voters eyes.

LF - Nate McLouth

Joe Sheehan believes this was more of an honorary award, one given to McLouth to reward him for having such an underrated season and making significant strides as a player. He deserves this award almost as much as Adrian Gonzalez deserves his. To again ignore Young is insulting.

P - Greg Maddux

The crime here is that this is still being called the National Leagues Gold Glove for a Pitcher. Why not just name it after Maddux?

As I mentioned, this is an award based on looks. While Maddux fields his position as well as anyone else, he also has the most opportunities to show off his glove to voters. No one is going to argue with this selection.

With only two glaring errors and borderline mistakes, the voters did not entirely ruin the credibility of the Gold Glove Award-although they did come close.

The American League Gold Gloves will be announced tomorrow at 4 PM EST.

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