Most eyes may currently be on the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic, but a travel day made time for MLB's best defenders to be showcased on Tuesday night, as the Gold Glove awards were handed out.
And they came with an added wrinkle: For the first time ever, sabermetrics and advanced statistics factored into the vote for this year's winners.
Already an event that causes much debate and outrage, that new change made things even more compelling.
Let's take a look at the winners:
|Position||AL Winner||Times Won||NL Winner||Times Won|
|C||Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals||1||Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals||6|
|1B||Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals||1||Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks||1|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox||3||Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds||4|
|3B||Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles||1||Nolan Arenado, Colardo Rockies||1|
|SS||J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles||2||Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves||1|
|LF||Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals||3||Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies||3|
|CF||Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles||3||Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers||1|
|RF||Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox||4||Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks||2|
|P||R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays||1||Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals||2|
If one thing stands out, it's the youth. On the National League side, four players won their first award, while two of them—Andrelton Simmons and Nolan Arenado—are under 25 years old.
Simmons, in particular, was quite possibly the most deserving winner in the entire league. In addition to making jaw-dropping plays on a seemingly nightly basis, the outstanding Braves shortstop checked out statistically too:
Andrelton Simmons had 41 Defensive Runs Saved in 2013 ... no other SS had even HALF that many!— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
The American League isn't short on talented defensive youngsters, either, as 21-year-old Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was able to beat out four-time winner Adrian Beltre, who is often regarded as one of the best defenders in the league. Even though Machado made some unbelievable plays and throws throughout the entire year, you have to believe the addition of advanced stats into the process also helped his cause.
ESPN's Mark Simon noted his resume, as well as another fact that will strengthen a kind comparison, which has been made on several occasions since Machado's rise to the big leagues:
Manny Machado led MLB 3B in Defensive Runs Saved ...had most Web Gems ...first Orioles 3B to win since Brooks Robinson— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
It's safe to say the future of defensive baseball is in good hands—er, gloves.
That's not to say it was all young guns being recognized on Tuesday night. There were plenty of familiar faces, as well.
St. Louis Cardinals veteran Yadier Molina won for this sixth time, moving him up the historical ranks of elite defensive catchers:
6 Gold Gloves for Yadier Molina ... Most by a C is Pudge 13, Bench 10, Boone 7, Sundberg 6, Molina 6— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
We use the term "veteran" lightly there. He's still just 31 years old, and there are likely several more Gold Gloves in his future.
Brandon Phillips and Shane Victorino were next, each winning their fourth award. The former is a good one for debate, as he makes some spectacular plays (hello, butt slide) but there are lots of good second basemen in the NL.
Victorino tweeted his thoughts on winning the award:
Second base in the American League, however, wasn't nearly as difficult from a statistical standpoint, as Simon pointed out:
All 3 AL 2B nominees have good numbers, good histories at the position ... watching Pedroia in World Series, understand why he won— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
Of course, there were plenty of surprising decisions as well. Adam Jones won his third award, but from a statistical standpoint, his season wasn't thought to be Gold-Glove worthy:
Adam Jones is probably going to be most controversial Gold Glove selection (3rd of career)-- his defensive metrics aren't good— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
Adam Jones did not rank in top 10 on my @fieldingbible ballot. I had Lorenzo Cain as best in AL ... Gomez and Lagares as best overall— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) October 30, 2013
Still, overall, it's hard to be too upset with the majority of the decisions. Some players turned in fantastic seasons and were simply casualties of loaded positions, but that's something that happens every year.