Gold Glove Finalists: American League

The list of finalists for the American League Gold Gloves has been released, and we know one thing for sure: Derek Jeter will not be winning his sixth.

Hey, here's something: Derek Jeter is NOT going to win a Gold Glove in 2011.

Here's something else: For the first time ever, the Rawlings people a) are telling us who the "finalists" for each Gold Glove Award were, and b) have put together a TV special to announce the awards, rather than a morning press release.

Yeah, right?

From ESPN:

ESPN2 will televise the first-ever Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show – emanating from ESPN’s Baseball Tonight studio in Bristol – Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 10 p.m. ET. The one-hour telecast, hosted by Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravech with analysts John Kruk and Barry Larkin (a three-time Gold Glove winner – 1994, 1995, 1996), will include the announcement of the 2011 Gold Glove Award winners and extensive highlights and analysis of the best defensive performers and plays during the MLB regular season.

One wonders why this didn't happen a long time ago. Maybe ESPN2 is scrambling for programming because of the NBA? Seems like they could have found an hour somewhere, even if the tall guys were playing bouncy ball like they're supposed to.

Anyway, here are the American League finalists at each position, with last year's winners starred ...

Pitchers: Mark Buehrle* (White Sox), Dan Haren (Angels), Fausto Carmona (Indians)
Buehrle's just a great fielder and should win again, though I often think pitchers who hold runners especially close don't get enough credit from Gold Glove voters.

Catchers: Matt Wieters (Orioles),  A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox), Alex Avila (Tigers)
Joe Mauer won last year. Joe Mauer will not win this year.

First Basemen: Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Casey Kotchman (Rays), Mark Teixeira* (Yankees)
Teixeira's sort of the default choice because he looks good, but the numbers have always suggested that he's just decent over there.

Second Basemen: Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), Robinson Cano* (Yankees), Ian Kinsler (Rangers)
Kinsler's made strides, but with Mark Ellis in Colorado, Dustin Pedroia's the best second baseman in the American League.

Shortstops: Erick Aybar (Angels), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians)
Hmmm. Not a great year for shortstops, apparently. But it's something of a crime that Asdrubal Cabera's here instead of (for example) Alcides Escobar, who had a great year at shortstop for the Royals.

Third Basemen: Adrián Beltré (Rangers), Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox), Evan Longoria* (Rays)
What a tough choice, with Beltre and Longoria both outstanding.

Left Fielders: Alex Gordon (Royals), Brett Gardner (Yankees), Sam Fuld (Rays)
Gordon, a converted third baseman, came out of nowhere to have a great season in left field. And Sam Fuld made a bunch of highlight plays early in the season. But Brett Gardner is off the charts and should win.

Center Fielders: Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Austin Jackson (Tigers), Peter Bourjos (Angels)
You can't go wrong with any of these guys; as we knew coming in, Rawlings' decision to switch to one award for each outfield position is going to leave some outstanding center fielders out in the cold.

Right Fielders: Nick Markakis (Orioles), Torii Hunter (Angels), Jeff Francoeur (Royals)

You know what's really striking about these lists? You've got a bunch of winners from last season who aren't even among this season's finalists. Derek Jeter won last year, and this year he's not close. And perhaps most surprisingly, all three of last year's Gold Glove outfielders -- Carl Crawford, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro Suzuki -- are completely missing this year. In the cases of Crawford and (especially) Ichiro, should we just assume they're being penalized because they didn't hit well this season?

Maybe not. Both of them suffered huge declines in their defensive metrics, and I'm now suspecting that Rawlings used defensive metrics to choose the finalists ... except then how do you explain Asdrubal Cabrera, whose numbers this season at shortstop were as lousy as ever.

Coming soon: the National League finalists. And of course we'll be covering the awards Tuesday night as they're announced.

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