Thursday, November 02, 2006

American League Gold Glove Award Winners.

Major League Baseball began it's annual rite of post-season award announcements with today's choices for American League Gold Glove Award winners. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - After all those errors in the World Series, a Detroit Tigers pitcher won a Gold Glove. Kenny Rogers, whose smudged left hand created a lot of suspicion during the World Series, won his fourth straight Gold Glove on Thursday and fifth overall.

Tigers teammate Ivan Rodriguez won his 12th Gold Glove, extending his record for catchers. Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter and Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez won the awards for the sixth straight season.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells won for the third time in a row, Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira won for the second consecutive season and Kansas City second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was a first-time winner.

Chavez and Rodriguez each earned $100,000 bonuses for winning Gold Gloves, while Rogers gets $75,000. Grudzielanek, Suzuki and Wells get $50,000 apiece and Hunter receives $25,000.

Gold Gloves have been presented since 1957 by Rawlings and are voted on by managers and coaches before the end of the regular season. They may not select players on their own teams, and they vote only for players in their own league.

NL Gold Glove winners will be announced Friday.

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Now let’s see how the voters did. Thanks to the wonderful baseball-reference web site (located conveniently on my blog roll), we can look at this past season’s fielding stats and see if there could have been other, more deserving players for these awards.

Position-by-position: First Base – Mark Teixeira led the AL in putouts and double plays, and was fourth in assists while committing just four errors. He’s a good choice.

Second Base – Mark Grudzielanik led the AL in double plays, but was just fifth in putouts and sixth in assists. Sure, he made just four errors, so he does have sure hands. Part of the reason he led the AL in DPs was that terrible Royals pitching staff that allowed so many baserunners. Grudzielanik only made eight more double plays than the AL runner-up, Boston’s Mark Loretta, who played for a team that allowed fewer baserunners, so is this a good measure of fielding prowess? A better choice might have been Mark Ellis. He had more putouts, but fewer double plays and assists, but he made just two errors. We saw what happened to the A’s infield in the post-season when Ellis went down with a broken finger.

Third Base – Eric Chavez led the AL in double plays with 42 while making just five errors. But he missed some time due to injury which depressed his putout and assist totals (fifth in putouts, sixth in assists). Mike Lowell of Boston led the AL in putouts, was fourth in assists and second in double plays while making just six errors. It’s a tough call, but I’d have been tempted to go with Lowell.

Shortstop – Derek Jeter was last among AL shortstops in range factor. He was seventh in the AL in putouts, sixth in assists and ninth in double plays. That despite having played more innings than all but four AL shortstops on a Yankee staff that allowed more balls to be put into play than in recent years. Michael Young of Texas led the AL in assists and double plays, and was third in putouts. He also had 14 errors to Jeter’s 15, despite handling 135 more chances than Jeter did. Who do YOU think is more deserving of this award?

Outfield – Once again we have the “let’s exclude left fielders from the discussion” concept in full gear. Torii Hunter has the rep, and he did lead AL center fielders with four double plays, but he was more than 60 putouts behind league leader, Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore. Vernon Wells was more than 70 behind Sizemore’s pace. Both Hunter and Wells are fine defenders, but how do you overlook that discrepancy? I’d give Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay the award for left field, and to Sizemore for center field. Ichiro can keep his, even though he was fourth in the AL in putouts for right fielders. Let’s not forget he played nearly forty games in center field and saw enough action there to make his combined putout total third best in the AL.

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez made just two errors and committed just four passed balls for a mostly young, inexperienced Tigers pitching staff. He was sixth in the AL in assists, which is terrific when you remember that hardly anyone runs on his cannon of an arm. Good choice.

Pitcher – Kenny Rogers was second in the AL in assists, and sixth in putouts. He has a terrific pickoff move, and showed some nice reflexes on the national stage this post-season. Good choice.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with the NL version.

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