2008 American League "Shoulda" Gold Gloves

Brandon HeikoopSenior Analyst INovember 6, 2008

The American League Gold Gloves will be handed out today at 4 PM EST on ESPNews. Similar to yesterday, I will kick-off this event by posting who the actual winners should be.

As a reminder, the main tools I will be utilizing come from The Fielding Bible (TFB) and The Hardball Times (THT). TFB's plus/minus (+/-) tool will be one of the measures considered, with THT's Revised Zone Rating (RZR) being the other.

The American League "Shoulda" Gold Glovers

1B: Lyle Overbay

Overbay didn't bring a lot with his bat this season, which will probably ruin any chance he has at actually winning this award. However, finishing first in RZR and second in +/- are reason enough to give this award to Overbay.

Adding in the fact that he made the most out of zone plays (OOZ) only further cements Overbay as the American League's best fielding first basemen. The runner-up for this award goes to Carlos Pena, with Daric Barton looking over his shoulder.

It is interesting to note that had Casey Kotchman or Mark Teixeira spent the entire year in the American League this award would have been much more difficult to hand out.

2B: Mark Ellis

Unlike the National League, there isn't a legitimate argument for another second basemen to win this award. There is Mark Ellis, and then everybody else. Leading the AL in both RZR and +/-, Ellis is far and away the best fielding second basemen in the league.

The runner-up is sure handed Placido Polanco. Don't be surprised to see Dustin Pedroia take this award, although he will certainly be undeserving of such.

Spoiler alert! Baseball Musings is reporting that Dusty has in fact won this award. This certainly has got to be one of the biggest mistakes for this year's award.

3B: Jack Hannahan

Initially, I figured this to be a no-brainer, Adrian Beltre all the way. However, Hannahan, not Beltre, is the league leader in RZR, while coming in second to Beltre for +/-. Despite putting up a phenomenal 78 OOZ, Beltre sits nearly 60 points behind Hannahan in RZR.

I may change my view on this once the Probabalistic Model of Range (PMR) is provided, and cannot argue with Beltre winning this award (consequently, he is my runner-up), but for now, I have to stick with Hannahan—do the numbers lie?

SS: Mike Aviles

Wow! Where did this guy come from again? Possibly Aviles' fielding may have me reconsidering my previous vote for Evan Longoria as AL Rookie of the Year. Among players with over 600 innings at short stop, Aviles leads all American League players in RZR, +/-, and PMR. That is certainly note-worthy.

The runner-up for this award is Marco Scutaro. I am utterly shocked that Scutaro is such a better fielder then teammate John McDonald.

LF: Carl Crawford

This is one of the easiest choices to make and one I am certain even the voters can manage to hit on. Crawford leads the AL in both RZR and +/-, and both by a substantially large margin.

Runner-up: Luke Scott. Despite landing fairly low on RZR, finishing second to CC in +/- helps his cause. Johnny Damon would make a claim for runner-up had he not been shuffled about the outfield as much in 2008.

CF: Carlos Gomez

Unfortunately I was only able to watch Gomez play a handful of times. Fortunately he impressed me each and everytime. Gomez is a lock to be an annual contender for the
"Shoulda" Gold Glove. The scary thing about the Minnesota outfield, Gomez isn't even their best fielder, that belongs to Denard Span, who did not play enough to qualify for the right field award—despite certainly being worthy of it.

The American League is ripe with incredible, young center fielders. With all possessing the offensive tools to keep them in the starting lineup, it is a matter of staying healthy. Because of this depth, it is nearly impossible to name a runner-up. Adam Jones didn't make TFB's +/- list, but he finished atop THT's RZR. He was also voted as the fourth best center fielder by TFB's poll. Good enough for me.

RF: Franklin Gutierrez

If Frankie stays in town and is provided with his fair share of plate appearances, the Indians could have one scary defensive outfield. Gutierrez led the American League in RZR and +/- among right fielders with more then 500 innings at the position. In fact, there is hardly a legitimate contender for this award. Gutierrez has the range of a center fielder, with the arm of—well, an awesome right fielder.

The runner-up for this award is the Blue Jays' Alexis Rios.

I've already leaked one winner, who is completely undeserving of the award. Unfortunately this is the major flaw of a system that has zero stipulations to the voting process other then not voting for ones own player.

However, even if managers and coaches were to look at the numbers, they would certainly look at the wrong ones. Even if the managers and coaches were given a set of "rules" to follow, they would misinterpret them the way the BBWAA does.

Sadly, the credibility of the Gold Gloves lessens with every passing season. Players with a "reputation" of flashy style are often the winners, while those who do the best job at preventing runs are left off the board.

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