Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Gold Glove Conspiracy

So the gold glove winners have been announced and I can’t say there are too many surprises in this year’s winners. Nevertheless, and perhaps because of, this I find myself just as annoyed by these awards as I am every year.

And no, it’s not because no Red Sox players won. We were a defensive shambles from the jump in 2009, a defensive shambles that ultimately lost us the division. Youkilis and (in a prime example of ‘its better late than never’) Alex Gonzalez (the now without a contract for some Theo-only-knows reason Alex Gonzalez) were the only bright spots defensively for the ‘09 Sox. Apparently Jason Bay was perfect in LF for us this year, but the guy has a Johnny Damon-esqe arm, so he doesn’t count.

The trouble I have with the gold glove awards is the seeming ease previous winners are able to retain their glove. Take Torii Hunter for example. Now nobody disputes his brilliance in the field, nor his offensive prowess, nor, for that matter, that he seems like a really nice guy. But the fact of the matter is that Torii will likely take home the AL CF gold glove until the day he hangs up that glove, is this really fair?

No, it makes a mockery of what is supposed to be an award given out on merit. Torii wasn’t the best CF in the AL this year. Carlos Gomez of the Twins was. Gomez played more games at CF, has more assists and compiled the exact same .997 fielding percentage as Hunter did. Torii Hunter has won the award based on reputation and superior offensive value, two factors that should play no part in selecting the best defensive players at each position.

That being said, I used to love Eric Chavez and never had a problem when he’d win the third base gold glove year after year despite being more fragile than glass.

One also has to feel sorry for poor Kevin Kouzmanoff of the lowly Padres who has been pipped to the post by Ryan Zimmerman of the even more lowly Nats. Going back to what I said about Hunter, by rights Kouzmanoff should have won this award as he was the best defensive 3b in the NL in 2009. However, there wasn’t much in it, both players are first time winners playing for awful teams, and Zimmerman made ‘gold glove plays’ all year.

What frustrates me about Kouz losing is that the Padre’s have essentially done this to themselves. According to the Pods GM sent a highlight reel of Kouzmanoff’s plays and defensive stats to all the other NL GMs instructing them to vote for his man. If I were Kouzmanoff I would not like this one little bit. I was always taught that praise (and by extension, reward) is something given, not asked for. Certainly were I in a position to award gold gloves, and found my vote was split between a player who did no electioneering and let his record speak for itself, and one who’s GM had been cheerleading for him since season’s end, I’d go with Zimmerman every time.

As for Ryan Zimmerman, I can’t help but think he’d look very good manning the third base at Fenway.

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