Year after year, baseball's end-of-season awards are usually room for debate and arguments. The last few years the argument has shifted around the Cy Young, with topics ranging from "How important is wins to a pitcher's stats (my answer is "not at all"), and Can a pitcher pitch in both league's (a la CC Sabathia with the Indians and Brewers in 2008), and still be eligible for the award (yes, but I believe in a case-by-case study for that one).
This time, however, the debate is based around the Gold Glove, and the Captain, Derek Jeter.
Let me get a few things out of the way: I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan and a New York Yankee hater, so it's fair to call me biased if you don't agree with this column. BUT I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Jeter, who is one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game, and one of the greatest Yankees ever. He's a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and a guy I hold no ill will against.
But Derek Jeter didn't deserve to win the Gold Glove. He didn't even deserve to be in the discussion. In fact, not only was Jeter wholly under qualified to win the Gold Glove, he was actually the WORST fielding SS in the AL this season. And that's not based off opinion—that's based off facts.
The common fan looks at two stats when it comes to who deserves a Gold Glove: Fielding Percentage and Errors. But these are very baseline stats, and don't really work. Why? Because fielding percentage doesn't take into account difficulty of plays. And errors are arbitrary—they're decided by the official scorer at that particular game. As a friendly scorer can rule what should be an error as a single.
Was Derek Jeter Deserving of the Gold Glove?
People may not like hearing that, but the reality is this: Fielding Percentage only shows the plays made, NOT the plays NOT made. Or to simplify it, it doesn't show all the balls Jeter DID NOT get to because of his awful lack of range.
But luckily for us, the fine folks at BaseballReference did run the stats on 59 shortstops this season using sabermetrics and advanced statistics to find out who was really deserving. And in dead-last (and I mean dead-last) place was...you guessed it, Derek Jeter. If you don't believe me, check out the link here.
To explain it in layman's terms, these are the two key stats you should look at: Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average and BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average. These stats show: The number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made (thanks to BaseballProjection.com).
In Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average, Jeter came in at -10, or 59th place out of 59. In 58th was Danny Worth of Detroit, with a -5. So you can see the HUGE jump between Jeter and the second-worst fielder.
The best fielder according to this statistic was Josh Wilson of Seattle. Second and third were Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox, respectively. Wilson had a 12 rating, Pennington and 11, and Ramirez a 9—all superior scores to Jeter's -12.
For BIS Defensive Runs Above Average, Jeter did move up...to 58th, or second-worst in the AL. He had a -13 rating, which was far superior than KC shortstop's Yuniesky Betancourt's -21 score, but still only one of three amongst AL shortstop's to be in the negative double-digits (the third being Jason Donald, or the guy who was called safe at first in Armando Gallaraga's perfect game).
With this stat, Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox was first (16), followed by Cliff Pennington (9), and Alex Gonzalez of Toronto (9). You see the recurring theme, and the recurring players.
This award has nothing to do with team success. It has nothing to do with leadership or likability. It solely has to do with fielding. And any advanced statistic will show you that Derek Jeter was shockingly undeserving of this award.