For years, the honor of winning a Gold Glove has been scoffed at for being an unjust competition.
Many great baseball experts/writers have argued that it's an exclusive club, and that once you're in, you're in for life (as Derek Jeter has proved).
Then there's also the argument that no matter how good of a season you have defensively, you have to back it up with good production at the plate if you want to take home the hardware.
With all due respect to Hardy, who had a good year leading all AL shortstops in fielding percentage at .993, he is no Brendan Ryan.
Ryan might have been behind in your standard defensive categories, but in the new sabermetric world where the stats actually prove your worth, he stood out alone.
His numbers have him far above anyone else defensively, but for the sake of this article, we will only compare him to Hardy.
"Defensive runs saved" should be the main stat to take into consideration when grading/judging a player's fielding abilities. Put simply, it is how many runs an individual stops from scoring by the plays he makes throughout the season. Ryan posted a 27 in that category, which was eight more than anyone else and nine more than Hardy (18).
Which AL SS should have won the Gold Glove?
Then there is the just as telling, but a lot more complicated to figure, UZR, or Ultimate Zone Rating. It's difficult to learn, but it's basically a way of saying who has the best overall range. Ryan had a 14.7, which was higher than Hardy's 11.4.
Yet again, advantage Ryan.
Those two stats alone won Ryan the Fielding Bible Award last Thursday, which is given to the best defensive fielder from both leagues. This award is voted on by a panel of 10 baseball experts, including the author of the Fielding Bible, John Dewan, and Peter Gammons. And if Gammons says something baseball related, it's right.
So with all of the evidence backing Brendan Ryan to win his first Gold Glove, how is it that he is still empty-handed?
The answer to that would be offensive production.
It's no secret that Ryan struggles with a bat. In 2012, he hit .194 on the season with three home runs and 31 RBI.
Hardy batted .238, which isn't great by any means, but he also swatted 22 homers and drove in 68 runs.
That, and the fact that his team reached the postseason, had to have some affect on the voters' decision.