Handing Out the Hardware, Part I: A.L. Gold Gloves

Joel KochSenior Analyst ISeptember 7, 2008

Welcome, welcome, welcome! This is quite exciting for me, as I am writing my second multiple-part series of articles. The first series, that just ended yesterday, was the offseason preview.

Now, we look at offseason awards. True, the offseason is eight-plus weeks away, but I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and this is what we have to look forward to at the moment.

This is how I’m hoping to do this. I don’t want to take more than four days, so there will be two articles a day. I’d do the articles together, but I feel like they shouldn’t be mixed. The Baseball Writers of America announce the awards in consecutive days, so I want to go by their precedent.

Anyway, we start with the Gold Gloves. First the American League, followed by the National League. Tomorrow, it’s all about the Rookie of the Year awards. On day three, the pitchers will reign supreme, as the Cy Young awards will be handed out. On the fourth and final day, the offense takes center stage as we’ll finish with the award known as the Most Valuable Player.

Without further ado, I give you your 2008 American League Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners:

Pitcher: Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays

Halladay is having a sensational year pitching, but his defense is going unnoticed. He has thrown the most innings in the league, has yet to yield an error, and has the fourth-best range factor.

Catcher: Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay Rays

Navarro is enjoying one of his best offensive seasons of his career, but he’s also enjoying a great season behind the plate. Offense shouldn’t factor into the Gold Glove decision (something I have never understood), and it doesn’t in my case.

Navarro has only three errors (one behind Joe Mauer for lowest in the A.L.), has only six passed balls credited to him, holds a 36 caught stealing percentage, and his catcher-earned-run average is a highly respectable 3.83.

First Base: Lyle Overbay, Toronto Blue Jays

Could the Blue Jays see a lot of gold for 2008? Possibly. Overbay, though he has two more errors than Carlos Pena of the Rays, has played the most innings, games, and has the most total chances at first.

He has three errors charged to him, holds a .998 fielding percentages, owns the best range factor amongst A.L. first baseman (9.83), and is third in zone rating with his .890 clip.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

This is going to be an extremely tight race. Pedroia, in my eyes, tops the very close runner-up, Akinori Iwamura. Pedroia has six errors and a .991 fielding percentage. He owns the second-best zone rating in the AL (.845) and holds a 4.73 range factor.

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners

Well, this was a close race too, but in the opposite direction. No one really deserves the gold glove for third. You can make the argument of Chone Figgins, but he hasn’t even played 100 games at third yet. When you think of it and get down to brass tax, the winner of the Gold Glove at a position should at least play 80 percent (130 games) of the season at the position.

Beltre has 14 errors, but owns the best zone rating in the A.L. among third baseman (.847). He’s played 1.166 innings, 134 games at third, and has had 373 total chances at third.

Shortstop: Michael Young, Texas Rangers

Young is one heck of a player, and he deserves this year’s Gold Glove over anyone else (including Derek Jeter...sorry New York Yankee fans, Jeter doesn’t deserve a Gold Glove). He does have a low zone rating, but he makes up for it elsewhere.

He has played the second most games and innings at short in the A.L., but he has turned almost 15 more double plays than his closest competitor (Jhonny Peralta). He has the fewest errors among the shortstops as well.

Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians

Let’s start with the Gold Glove machine named Hunter. He has yet to make an error on the season and holds four outfield assists. He logs a high zone-rating and a high range-factor in center field as well.

Markakis is having a great season on the defensive side of life. He has 15, yes 15, outfield assists, compared to his three errors. With his three double-plays turned, he’s looking at gold in 2008.

Sizemore is another Gold-Glove machine. He may be one of the few silver linings in Cleveland this year. With his high zone-rating and range factor, he’s a continual force in center, especially when he has only committed two errors.

Well, there you have it, the 2008 AL Gold Glove winners. I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to bringing you the next seven. All information was taken from ESPN’s MLB fielding stats (under qualified, comparing eight of the top fielders for each position). You can find it here.