On November 9th at 2 P.M., the American League Gold Glove winners were announced. Having written up my own choices, I went and compared both. For the most part, the results were pretty spot on. Franklin Gutierrez and Carl Crawford's first Gold Gloves were long overdue, and I was rooting for Evan Longoria to get another one over some who preferred Adrian Beltre.
There were only two that I did not pick that the MLB players and managers did. The first was Mark Teixeira at first base. I was hoping that Daric Barton would get it, but Teixeira had a good defensive season, and I can't fault that selection. The second was shortstop, where I, as well as the other Featured Columnists at B/R, felt that Alexei Ramirez was the most deserving choice. Instead, they gave the award to Derek Jeter.
Now, I would be very much willing to bet that many of those who voted did not bother to look past fielding percentage. To Jeter's credit, he did lead the league in that statistic this season and last. Having said that, fielding percentage is only one of many factors to be taken into account when deciding the best fielder. It's like picking the best reliever by saves and only saves.
Herein lies the rub, though: they can't even use fielding percentage as their reasoning. After all, Jhonny Peralta had the best fielding percentage at third base, but no one in their right mind would ever give him a Gold Glove. The problem is when you look at the more advanced stats: Total Zone Fielding Runs, Defensive Runs Saved, etc.
In these rankings, Jeter isn't among the top shortstops. He's not in the top half, even. In fact, for some of the stats, out of the 59 AL players who spent time at shortstop this year, he ranks at the bottom. He is dead last in Rtot at -10, and in Rdrs he ranks 58th, only ahead of Yuniesky Betancourt.
If you're still not convinced, his defensive WAR this season was -1.1. Yes, his defense cost the Yankees a win. It's just strange that he wins yet another Gold Glove when, according to the stats, he's a bad defender, and even many Derek Jeter fans don't bring up his recent defense when admiring his talents.
I understand that the Gold Glove is a popularity contest. After all, it's hard to figure out exactly who deserves a Gold Glove by looking only at stats, as it's something where you have to watch the person play day in and day out. However, it's not selected by the writers, but rather by the players and managers. In other words, it's selected by the people who watch everyone play, and they still dropped the ball, badly.
Still, to pick the one who is statistically on par with Yuniesky Betancourt, of all people, to give a Gold Glove to? It ruins an otherwise fairly good selection of players.