We all know this award is something of a joke (no offense to last year's undeserved winner Adam Jones), but I'm still always interested in which outfielder not named Ichiro or Torii Hunter will get one, or if they'll hysterically decide that Derek Jeter is a good shortstop for the umpteenth time (oh wait...they did? Of course they did). Here is the complete list of AL Gold Glove winners for 2010:
|First Base||Mark Teixeira|
|Second Base||Robinson Cano|
|Third Base||Evan Longoria|
That list speaks for itself, but I'm gonna comment anyway. Being a Yankee makes you overrated, Ichiro is a lock (and rightfully so. Not so much for Hunter who finally got bumped), and sometimes the voters actually do get it right. Congratulations to Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Franklin Gutierrez.
It's hard to argue with Joe Mauer at catcher, it really is. He is a strong defensive catcher, he has a good reputation, and of course he can hit, which gets the attention of the voters in the first place. But as disappointing as Matt Wieters was with the bat this year, the same cannot be said for his work behind the plate. His defense this season was top notch and deserves a little bit of recognition. Check out the stats below the jump.
Here are the primary catchers for each American League team in 2010 (I did what I could, but you might have to set your page setting to wide to see the whole thing). For the same information sortable by column, head over to the Baseball Reference report.
In my opinion, the award should really only be given to someone who put in a full season behind the plate. On that criteria alone, you lose a number of these guys. Only Pierzynski, Wieters, Suzuki, Kendall, Mauer, Martinez, and Buck made over 100 starts as catcher, so I would only consider them for the award.
Martinez gets knocked out right away. His reputation for being a poor fielder is well deserved and he ranks near the bottom of nearly every defensive category. He's much better suited to be a 1B or DH, but his bat makes up for a lot of his defensive deficiencies.
I know a lot of stock isn't put into fielding percentage these days, but thirteen errors by Jason Kendall? That combined with the fact he allowed over 100 stolen bases is enough for me to cross him off the list (a 29% CS rate is pretty good, but 101 stolen bases? What was going on in Kansas City?), and the rest of the stats don't look too kindly on him either. John Buck also scores pretty low across the board.
Total Zone doesn't love Suzuki, however BIS thinks he's not so bad. The 22% caught stealing rate is kind of offensive, however. I certainly don't think he's a poor defensive catcher, but not good enough for the award.
That leaves Wieters, Mauer, and Pierzynski. The new guy, the hometown hero, and the jerk. The stats are split on Pierzynski, with Total Zone ratings putting him in the middle of the pack and Bill James and company liking what they see in his abilities. His CS% of 26 is middle of the road and seventy-five stolen bases against is pretty high. Mauer also put up a 26% CS and was above average in nearly every statistical category. He was only at the top of the list in Fielding Percentage, however, and didn't rank higher than third in any other. Wieters scored above Mauer in nearly every category.
So how about Matt Wieters?
Wieters' 31% CS mark is fourth best on the entire list and best of the catchers who started at least 100 games. His fielding percentage of .994 was third behind Pierzynski and Mauer, but he ranks first or second in all of the Total Zone and BIS stats* (that'd be those on the chart above from Rtot through RerC) other than RerC, which measures runs above average in regards to pitcher ERA. Matt scores a zero in that stat, which is good for 9th.
Wieters doesn't look quite as good when you compare him with the other catchers in range factor per nine innings and range factor per game. But honestly, you know who ranks at the top of that list? Victor Martinez. And Joe Mauer is near the bottom in those as well, so pardon me if I don't put too much stock in them.
(It's not noted on this particular chart, but I have it on good authority that Matt Wieters also led the league in bad ass stares down to second base after throwing out a runner)
We all know the Gold Gloves aren't fair, and at least the choice at catcher is a player who is actually quite good at his position. It's not as if Wieters lost out to Jorge Posada or something. As unfair as it might be, Matt will need to get that bat going if he wants to be recognized for his glove. Hopefully we'll see that beginning in 2011 and by the end of his career he won't know what to do with all of his awards.
*Brief definitions of these stats are available at Baseball Reference, just hover your mouse over each one. To learn more about Total Zone ratings, check out this article at The Hardball Times. To learn more about Baseball Info Solutions stats, get to know the Fielding Bible.