Steve Cameron of the Kansas City Star is out for justice. You see, our dear columnist from America’s Mid West would’ve preferred that Alex Gordon represent the Kansas City Royals at Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in July rather than Aaron Crow, and to make up for that misstep, he believes that Gordon should be awarded a Gold Glove once this season is complete.
Cameron supports his claim that Gordon is deserving of recognition for his defensive prowess with more one sentence paragraphs than Samuel Johnson. His reasons include:
- 20 assists, which lead all major league outfielders;
- Only three errors and a fielding percentage of .991;
- All the diving catches, the wall-scrapers, the leaps for balls headed into the left-center gap; and
- Hitting .303 with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs.
But perhaps Cameron’s most powerful argument is this:
Name another contender for the Gold Glove in left field.
Well, Mr. Cameron, as convincing a case as your limited observations and Gordon’s offensive numbers might make, I’d have to point out that a far superior defender patrols left field in the biggest baseball market in the Majors. Did you willfully ignore Brett Gardner, or have you seriously not watched a single highlight package of the New York Yankees all season long?
Instead of Gardner, Cameron raises Carl Crawford as a straw man to compete with Gordon. The equivalent to this is to suggest that Jose Bautista is the best hitter in baseball and then compare him to . . . well, Carl Crawford again. It’s not a fair comparison because no one is claiming that Crawford is the best. I would suggest that Gardner is the best, and to steal a phrase from a writer with the Kansas City Star: it’s a lock.
While there may be some issues with trusting UZR numbers for one year, the stats over a single season are far from meaningless and in the case of Gardner and Gordon, both UZR and DRS form something of an aggregative agreement in 2011.
Gordon scores well in both, which suggest his defense has saved six runs (DRS) and has been 6.7 runs above average (UZR), but Gardner scores exceptionally better, having been judged to have saved 22 runs and been 23.8 runs above average.
Gold Glove Awards may be about as meaningless a piece of recognition that can be handed out. However, there’s still something to be said for honouring a player who excels at the defensive aspect of the game. In a FanGraphs post from earlier this summer, Jack Moore noted that Brett Gardner’s total WAR puts him in elite company, but that such a large percentage of his WAR comes from his defensive abilities makes him unique among those elite.
Despite Cameron’s contradiction in the article suggesting that:
Most winners in the past have been center fielders, for obvious reasons. The only regular exception recently in the American League has been Ichiro Suzuki – also for obvious reasons.
Before remembering that:
The best you can do would be Boston’s Carl Crawford, who actually won a Gold Glove playing left field last year for Tampa Bay.
It is true that this year’s Gold Glove Awards will be handed out to a left fielder, a center fielder and a right fielder, not just to three outfielders. However, if anything this should end up harming Gordon’s chances, given that Gardner is the best outfielder in baseball no matter what section of grass he roams.