Friday, November 13, 2009

Gold Gloves Not the Only Flawed Award

Anyone who has been reading the major sites and the most popular baseball writers knows the current outcry of scorn concerning the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. And while that award's results this year are again severely flawed, it isn't the only flawed award out there. This week we also had the announcements for the Silver Slugger Award which awards the best hitters at each position in the American and National leagues. This award is just as flawed but doesn't get as much ink.

There is no denying that the Gold Glove Awards are a joke. Several of this year's choices are puzzling and not anywhere close to being reality to who the best fielders are at each position. By the Fan's estimation, only six of the eighteen choices are defensible. That qualifies as a joke by a wide margin. And the scorn of writers and bloggers is justified. But hardly anyone talks much about the Silver Slugger Awards. Perhaps they are not as "big" as the Gold Glove Awards, but they are visible enough to be reported.

But whether the Silver Slugger is as "big" as the Gold Glove or not, shouldn't the process be correct? The award considers batting average and on base percentage among other things. But from this perspective, it does not consider slugging. To this writer, the awards should be based on OPS+. That considers all aspects of a batter's game. While it is true that this statistic has a few basic flaws, it is a truer valuation of a player's results than just batting average and on base percentage. Let's look at results per position.

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer. Well yeah...

First base: Teixeira. They got this one right. Youkilis had a better OPS+ (he was second in the league behind Mauer), but the Red Sox screwed this one all up because they split Youkilis between first and third base, making him ineligible for either.

Second base: Aaron Hill. While Aaron Hill had a wonderful season and while the Fan is thrilled for him for his success, Ben Zobrist had a better OPS+ by quite a bit.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter. Jeter had the highest OPS+ among shortstops.

Third base: Evan Longoria. Longoria had a great season, but A-Rod had a much higher OPS+.

Outfield: Jason Bay, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter. The correct choices should have been Bay, Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kubel. But if you want to rule Kubel out because he was a DH for 80 games, then next up would be J. D. Drew. Ichiro is a singles machine. He's also a prime outfielder and a good base runner. But his OPS+ was lower than Johnny Damon's for Pete's Sake.

DH: Adam Lind. This one was dead on.

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann. This one is correct. Montero for Arizona just missed with an OPS just points lower.

First base: Albert Pujols. Duh.

Second base: Chase Utley. Yes.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez. Another Yes.

Third base: Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman had a break out year and also deserved the Gold Glove, but Pablo Sandoval had a higher OPS+ by nine points.

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp. Bruan is correct as is Ethier, but Kemp was a mistake. It should have been Raul Ibanez who has Kemp by six points in OPS+.

DH: Oh yeah, the National League doesn't have one. Zambrano won it as a pitcher.

So the final tally is 12 correct out of 18 positions. Not quite as bad as the Gold Glove Awards, but still flawed nonetheless. The obvious point here is that the managers and coaches should not be picking either award. As long as they do, the awards will be flawed and we won't have a viable award that means anything.


eyebleaf said...

Hill had more hits (195-149), doubles, home runs, RsBI, runs than Zobrist, and struck out fewer times than Zobrist.

Zobrist's OBP and OPS are impressive, no doubt. But it takes a special big leaguer to crack the 35 HR and 100 RsBI mark.

Hill was more than deserving. He played 156 games at 2B, compared to Zobrist's 91. And we both know 2B is a much, much more demanding position.

Once Hill learns to be a little bit more patient, he will win an MVP award, much like that jackass Dustin Pedroia did.

Josh Borenstein said...

Hill won't ever have a chance to win MVP unless the Jays contend, and I don't see that happening any time soon.

Franklin Gutierrez was the major snub in Gold Gloves; he had a 29.1 UZR rating this year in center field!

I disagree with you on a few guys.

As good as Hill was this year, if you go by OPS, Cano was much better. I would have given it to Cano.

Longoria played 157 games to A-Rod's 124. I think they got this one right, although it's not a slam dunk.

I wouldn't have given it to Hunter. Kubel can't hit lefties. Neither can Ethier. Choo was deserving. I don't have a problem with Ichiro getting it. Led the league in hits and finished 2nd in BA, which is still an impressive stat to me.

I agree with you on Sandoval v. Zimmerman.

In the NL outfield, I would do the opposite. Keep Kemp. His OPS is lower than Ethier's, but I like the combination of power and speed that he boasts. Nearly had a 30/30 year. Take out Ethier. And replace him with Ibanez's teammate, Jayson Werth.

Josh Borenstein said...

Forgot to say that Zobrist had the same problem Youkilis had. Didn't play enough games at the position to qualify, IMO. Zobrist played 91 games at 2nd base to Hill's 156 and Cano's 161.

Josh Borenstein said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. I would have given Micah Owings the SS over Zambrano. Owings' OPS was .818 to Zambrano's .689 OPS. Zambrano had a few more PAs, but Owings was much better.

William said...

eyeb: Okay, I'll give you Hill.
Josh: I guess Cano's post season colored my opinion of the year he had. heh. Agree to both of you about Zobrist's number of games at second, my bad. Guess I disagree with your pick of NL outfielders, but no harm there.