Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fielding Errors

Maybe it is because I treasure the game of baseball and its history, or because I get outraged by injustice, although probably it is because Met players win awards so rarely, but I hate it when post-season awards are given to the undeserving.  The 2010 Gold Gloves awards were just announced.  Voted on by managers and coaches, Gold Gloves are supposed to be given to the best fielding players at each position in the each league.  It is said that players sometime win not because of their great year in the field but because of past reputation or fame or because of a great offensive season.  Raphael Palmiero had a great year with the bat in 1999, and won a Gold Glove at first base despite playing just 28 games there that season.  Relying on traditional statistics does not really help either.  A fielder who committed the least number of errors may simply not have the range to get to a lot of balls that a more aggressive, quicker player would get to.  New statistical measures have been developed which provide a more accurate gauge of a fielder's ability.  UZR, for example, measures the number of runs saved or lost based on a player's defense.  The managers and coaches who vote for the Gold Glove awards have been slow to embrace the new metrics and still rely on reputation and simple fielding percentage as can be seen by this year's selections.  Exhibit A is Derek Jeter who received his fifth Gold Glove. It  is true that he committed the fewest errors among A.L. shortstops but his range has greatly diminished over the years and it is universally acknowledged that he is not even close to being the best fielding shortstop in his league (that would be the far less famous Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox).  And in the National League, the mighty Albert Pujols won the award which really should have gone to the Met's rookie first baseman Ike Davis.  Really.


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