Well, here we are! Article two of this eight part series. I would ramble like I did in Part I, but I think you all are about tired of my rambles, am I right?
So, without further ado, I give you your 2008 National League Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners:
Pitcher: Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks
Webb is in the conversation for the Cy Young award, but he’s winning gold for sure in 2008. He owns the highest range factor among NL pitchers, only two errors in 198 innings (30 games), and is tied for first in the most turned double plays. Sure, double plays don’t do much credit to a pitcher, but that’s still respectable.
Catcher: Jason Kendall, Milwaukee Brewers
It would certainly be great if Yadier Molina would win, but it’s not happening as he’s having an uncharacteristically bad defensive season. Kendall, on the other hand, has stepped up his defensive game after having a down year last year. He’s thrown out 43 percent of would be base stealer's and has a catcher earned run average of 3.77. He’s committed only six errors and allowed four passed balls. Oh, did I mention he’s caught the most games and innings?
First Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Well, this was a tight race between “El Hombre” and Adrian Gonzalez, but Pujols takes the cake here. He has a range factor over 10 (10.71) and leads the NL in that stat. He also leads the league in zone rating with a .939 clip. He’s only committed four errors and has become one of the best defensive first baseman in the league.
Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
This is another close race, this one between Phillips and Chase Utley. Utley has the upper hand in range factor and zone rating, but Phillips holds the advantage in errors, which is what it’s really about in my opinion. Utley has turned more double plays, but he’s also played three games and 17 more innings more than Phillips.
Third Base: Troy Glaus, St. Louis Cardinals
Glaus is having the best defensive season of his career and in Cardinals history. He has only committed six errors (.984 fielding percentage, both lead the league) and leads the league in range factor with a 2.81. In zone rating, Glaus ranks fourth with a .797 clip.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros
Well, the NL Central is not only the best division in baseball; it’s also the best defensively. Tejada is on the verge of winning another gold glove, this time, his first in the NL. He’s tied with Jimmy Rollins for the highest zone rating clip (.854) in the league. He also owns a 4.21 range factor. He’s committed only nine errors in 1205 innings and 139 games (one error every 134 innings or every 15 games).
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates
Hunter Pence, Houston Astros
The NL Central dominance continues. Who would have thought Braun, a man who was moved from third base because of his defensive woes, would win a gold glove? He’s committed no errors this season, while playing the second most games and the most innings for a left fielder. Now, I’m not one for every outfield position, but Braun is really showing what he’s made of. He leads the left fielders with a 2.00 range factor and is third with his eight outfield assists.
McLouth is having a super fine year all around. A career year with the bat, and now a gold glove for his defensive work. He’s third in games played and innings for a NL center fielder, while committing no errors. He also owns five outfield assists.
Like I said, I’m not one for a gold glove for each outfield spot. Center fielders should have priority with the difficulty the position holds, but Pence is another exception. After committing six errors last year while playing mostly center field, Pence has adjusted well to right field down in Houston. He has 15 outfield assists, a 2.30 range factor, and is second in innings and tied for first in games.
Phew, another one bites the dust, eh? Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the American and National League Rookies of the Year. I hope you have enjoyed Part II, as I am eagerly awaiting to present you with Parts III-VIII.