MLB Gold Gloves: Who are your picks?

by JohnBowen

The World Series is over (sigh, congrats to the Cardinals), which means Hot Stove season is upon us. Also, football season. And hockey season. And basket-oh, wait.

And also – awards season, where we debate the comparative accomplishments of the players we just saw for 162 games.

The first (and my least favorite) is the Gold Gloves, which are picked by a kindergarten class in Staten Island or something. Evaluating fielders is largely a subjective exercise – while there are numbers available, there are generally two or more degrees of separation between the actual performance and the statistic it produces. Or, alternatively, they just don’t account for very much. Fielding percentage ignores the fact that you can’t make an error on a ball you don’t get to (it would be like ignoring strikeouts when computing batting average). Range factor is tough to compare, because it assumes every staff is going to surrender equally as many flyballs, groundballs, line drives while striking out the exact same number of people. Real baseball doesn’t work that way.

Since most of us don’t live in the MLB fan cave and watch 2430 baseball games a year, it’s hard to truly know who the best fielders in the game are. That’s why I’m asking you, the reader, for your thoughts.

A new twist for 2011: gold-glovers will be chosen for all three outfield positions; instead of simply awarding three gold gloves to outfielders, awards will be given to a left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder in each league.

Here are my picks, based on general observations, reputations (even more dangerous than the numbers) and a glance at the (rather loose) objective data:

National League

Pitcher: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

Catcher: Yadi Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

1st Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

2nd Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

3rd Base: Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

Left Field: Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

Center Field: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Right Field: Mike Stanton, Florida Marlins

American League

Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox

Catcher: Russell Martin, New York Yankees

1st Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox

2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

3rd Base: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

Shortstop: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (if Jeter wins, I quit)

Left Field: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

Center Field: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

Right Field: Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals

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17 Responses to “MLB Gold Gloves: Who are your picks?”

  1. Cameron Says:

    Hm… Tough call. Though differentiating between the outfielders is a nice change instead of the three OF gloves. You always get 3 CF winning those because it’s natural the three best defensive OF play the premium position. ANYWAY!

    NL
    -
    Pitcher: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers (The one thing Zack hasn’t been able to fuck up.)
    Catcher: Yadi Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (By default. Though Jonathon Lucroy blocks more balls than anyone I’ve ever seen, he deserves something.)
    1st Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (I was thinking him or Carlos Pena.)
    2nd Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (Yeah, Phillips is a beast.)
    3rd Base: Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies (Only because Rolen and Zimmerman were hurt this year.)
    Shortstop: Jose Reyes, New York Mets (Coin flip with him and Tulo)
    Left Field: Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks (Under the radar, but he’s great out there.)
    Center Field: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (CATCH 22!)
    Right Field: Hunter Pence, Houston Astros/Philadelphia Phillies (Pure gut pick on this one.)

    AL
    -
    Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (He lost a step at the mound, but he can still flash the leather.)
    Catcher: Russell Martin, New York Yankees (A league average catcher playing in New York would’ve led the league in passed balls by a mile. Martin made it look easy.)
    1st Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox (Yeah… Yeah.)
    2nd Base: Robinson Cano (Again, gut pick. Might say Kinsler too because Andrus gives him a bunch of easy DPs.)
    3rd Base: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (Who else? Guy’s a wizard.)
    Shortstop: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (Everyone talks about Elvis, but Alcides is where the real deal is.)
    Left Field: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (Why not?)
    Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners (Death To Flying Things is Death To Flying Things)
    Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (The streak lives on.)

  2. John Says:

    I was gonna instictivly say FG, but he only played 90 games this year.

  3. Cameron Says:

    Oh really? Didn’t know that.

    Uh… Can’t decide between Adam Jones, BJ Upton, or Curtis Granderson as a fallback. They’ve all been pretty sharp.

    I think I’ll go Granderson just because of the arm difference. Though you need to have a good arm patrolling No Man’s Land.

  4. John Says:

    Adam Jones doesn’t strike me as very good.

    Upton…sure. Grandedson…maybe.

  5. Cameron Says:

    Jones is a good fielder. He’s already got a gold glove in his trophy case and he still flies out there. Try watching some more O’s games when you can. They’re kind of a fun team to watch.

    But then again, winning a Gold Glove doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good fielder. Rafael Palmeiro won one at first. After only playing 28 games there.

  6. John Says:

    I see a fair number of Orioles games, living in MD. I don’t find them terribly thrilling as a club and I’m kinda iffy on Jones.

  7. JohnBowen Says:

    Results were announced:

    AL

    C – Matt Wieters
    1B – Adrian Gonzalez
    2B – Dustin Pedroia
    3B – Adrian Beltre
    SS – Erick Aybar
    LF – Alex Gordon
    CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
    RF – Nick Markakis
    P – Mark Buehrle

    NL

    C – Yadi Molina
    1B – Joey Votto
    2B – Brandon Phillips
    3B – Placido Polanco
    SS – Troy Tulowitzki
    LF – Gerardo Parra
    CF – Matt Kemp
    RF – Andre Ethier
    P – Clayton Kershaw

    Notes:

    Finally, Jeter’s reign of shitty defense terror is over. I haven’t seen a ton of Aybar, I have a very hard time believing he’s better than Escobar.

    Votto is not better defensively than Pujols. He’s quite solid, but Pujols is incredible (weird how Jeter wins GG’s for his bat, but weirdly, Pujols’ bat makes people forget about his defense).

    Seems like they picked the wrong Royal, especially considering how Brett Gardner was in LF and Nick Markakis is pretty whatever.

    And lastly, Andre Ethier over Mike Stanton?

    Oh well. I agreed with 9/18.

  8. Cameron Says:

    WHOO! Go Alex Gordon!

  9. Chuck Says:

    Who ever voted for Ellsbury should be shot.

  10. brautigan Says:

    If you want to see a better representation of what a Gold Glove “should be”, then wait for Bill James Handbook that contains the “2011 Fielding Bible awards”. They do a much better job of picking the best fielders by position.

    I mean, Ellsbury and Ethier? C’mon.

  11. JohnBowen Says:

    They did pick Fielding Bible awards:

    (remember it’s for all MLB)

    1B: Pujols
    2B: Pedroia
    3B: Beltre
    SS: Tulowitzki
    LF: Gardner
    CF: Austin Jackson
    RF: Justin Upton
    C: Matt Wieters
    P: Mark Buehrle

    So actually, 5/9 were gold glovers.

    I gotta take issue with CF and RF.

    Jackson was my pick for AL gold glove, but the NL has McCutchen and Bourn who I think are far better.

    1) Mike Stanton should really be the guy, I think.
    2) Upton committed 13 errors as a RF…that’s kinda nuts, right? I mean, fielding percentage is a piss-poor way to judge a fielder, but that’s a TON of errors. As evidence of the fickleness of fielding statistics, he’s worth -0.9 dWAR on bbref and has a UZR of +7.7 on fangraphs. Seems fishy to me.

  12. Chuck Says:

    If Ellsbury wins MVP, I’m done with baseball.

    I’ll burn the baseball cards, put all the Street & Smiths on Ebay, cancel MiLB.com.

    Done.

  13. JohnBowen Says:

    Remember, a real MVP would have willed Carl Crawford to make that catch on the last day of the season.

  14. Cameron Says:

    A real MVP would have a ribcage not made of balsa wood.

  15. Jim Says:

    @ 12, we can only hope.

    Ellsbury’s defense this year was a significant improvement over prior years. His jumps and routes were better, he continued to be sure handed, and his arm still sucked. And for the sabrematic minded a UZR of 15.6, which isn’t shabby.

    @ 14 Ells played in 158 games this year, hardly proof of brittleness.

  16. Cameron Says:

    He had a good year this year, I’ll admit. I’m just saying the guy broke his ribs twice last year and I love making cracks about it.

  17. Michael Crowe Says:

    NL

    P – L. Hernandez
    C – Molina
    1b – Pujols
    2b – Phillips
    SS – A. Gonzalas
    3rd – Zimmerman
    LF – Parra
    CF – McCutchen
    RF – Stanton

    AL – Didn’t watch the AL.

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