The Rawlings Gold Gloves were announced on television on Tuesday night, but you probably already knew that, as you were likely watching the Northern Illinois/Toledo game with all your buddies. It wasn't the most thrilling television ever produced, but it is kind of nice to watch a few highlights of the winners after they're announced. It's not like there was anything better on that was baseball-related.
Here are the Gold Glove Award winners for both the American League and the National League:
Molina is probably the least surprising of all of the Gold Gloves, as this is his fourth straight award, and he easily has the best defensive reputation in the league (among catchers who can hit, which is a prerequisite for the Gold Gloves.)
Wieters was the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft, and his bat was supposed to be a little ahead of his glove, which said more about his bat than any lack of defensive reputation. This is about the point when Pirates fans start wondering what Daniel Moskos is up to lately.
A pair of left-handed pitchers took the award, though I have to plead ignorance with both of them. What do they do well? They probably fall off the mound in good position to field, pick up the bunts they need to pick up, and make accurate throws. It's not like they're diving all over the diamond like you could do with the pitchers in Baseball Stars with the old NES. That would be really cool, though.
Gordon, a converted third baseman, led baseball with 20 outfield assists this year, and he had a fantastic defensive year to go along with his career year offensively. It was a few years later than Royals fans might have hoped, but it's better than having him go full John Ford-Griffin.
Brett Gardner not winning is, in the words of Rob Neyer ... well, I can't type exactly what he said. He didn't agree with it, though.
Parra's competition was Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday, which says as much about the state of left-field defense as it does Parra. But Parra was a center fielder in the minors, and he could certainly handle the position in the majors, but he's blocked by Chris Young.
Ellsbury used to be a polarizing figure when it came to his defense, but he's had fantastic UZR for four of the last five seasons -- not just good, but fantastic. In 2011, he made 91 plays out of his zone according to FanGraphs, which made me look up David Ortiz's stats to see if he played any right field this year.
Ellsbury beat out Curtis Granderson, which set up a theme for the awards. When there were Yankees and Red Sox matched up, the Red Sox took the award. That's probably why their pitching was so stingy with the runs late in the year.
Kemp consistently has miserable UZRs, and the CF position is stacked in the National League, with Michael Bourn, Chris Young, and Shane Victorino all having great defensive reputations and numbers. But Kemp looks the part of the athletic center fielder, and he had the all-around fantastic year. If his UZR matched his reputation, he probably would have been a 534-WAR player this year.
The stats don't love the defense of either one, but Markakis has a reputation for a fantastic arm. Ethier has never had a good defensive reputation as far as I can tell, he played only 124 games because of knee problems, and he played right field like a guy who played only 124 games because of knee problems, at least to these untrained eyes.
The sad thing, though, is that he was almost certainly better defensively than Carlos Beltran, who was also one of the finalists this year, so the choice could have been worse.
How is this only the third time Beltre has won? I realize that Evan Longoria is pretty danged good, but Beltre is the closest thing to Brooks Robinson that we have in the game. Dude's good. Plus, he does stuff like this:
This is Polanco's third Gold Glove, but his first as a third baseman. Pablo Sandoval probably would have been a good choice as well, but this is likely just a sabbatical for Ryan Zimmerman, who will probably win the next ten if he stays healthy.
No Asdrubal Cabrera, who is the Derek Jeter (as far as the scouts/stats schism goes) of a new generation. Considering that Jeter won last year, though, he's probably still the Derek Jeter of his generation. Aybar is an upset here, especially over both Cabrera and J.J. Hardy, both of whom have a little bit more name-brand recognition when it comes to their defense.
Tulowitzki is as unsurprising as Molina. He's been the best shortstop in the NL since he came up. Tulowitzki, not Molina. Though I'd pay twice as much for tickets if someone could guarantee Molina a start at short.
Pedroia has amazing range for someone who covers only three feet of territory when he's completely outstretched on the ground, and he's a worthy winner. The folks on ESPN expressed mild surprise that it wasn't Cano, but it probably would have been Ian Kinsler if the voting were done after the playoffs.
Phillips is almost certainly the least-surprising choice. Okay, fine, he's at least tied with Tulo and Yadier, but he's a shortstop playing second base. It would have been interesting to see how he would have done if the Indians had kept him at short. It's not like they had anyone good playing there when Phillips came up.
If you go by UZR -- and I'm sure all the coaches and managers who voted on this stuff made sure to flip to FanGraphs on their iPads before they submitted their ballots -- the voters got this one exactly right. It's a little bit of an upset that Mark Teixeira didn't win, but it's not like Gonzalez had the reputation of being a clankmitt over there at first.
The actual leader in UZR/150 at first base, if you don't set an innings minimum? Omar Vizquel, who made two plays in three innings at first for a 96.0 UZR/150. If the Mariners really want to take this defense-first strategy seriously, ...