Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Was Brendan Ryan robbed of the Gold Glove Award?

J.J. Hardy won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his play at shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles this season. The selection left many wondering why Brendan Ryan of the Seattle Mariners did not win the award. Seattle Mariner fans who got to watch Ryan's wizardry at short are screaming the loudest, naturally. But many others are also crying foul. While the awards themselves have been considered flawed for most of its existence, it is the opinion here that Hardy's selection was correct. Let's take a look.

First, Ryan's case is built on the many highlight reels he filled this season. And there is no doubt the guy is a wizard at his position. Others look at the new fielding metrics that try to put an overall fielding number next to a guy's stats to quantify his fielding season. Ryan led all shortstops according to with a fielding score of 14.4 runs above average. Hardy finished at a very good 11.4 or three runs less than Ryan.

But has it the other way around. That site gives Hardy 21 total zone total fielding runs above average compared to Ryan's nine. In the pursuit of fairness, B-R does give Ryan the most BIS defensive runs saved among shortstops at 27 compared to Hardy's 18. So here we have two sites with two different fielding metric methods flip-flopping on who the best shortstop was. Whenever you have that kind of thing happening, you have to go deeper into the numbers.

And there is where Hardy takes it over Ryan. Here is a comparison of the two:

  • Innings - Hardy (1,439), Ryan (1,170.2)
  • Chances - Hardy (779), Ryan (601)
  • Putouts - Hardy (244), Ryan (199)
  • Assists - Hardy (529), Ryan (396)
  • Errors - Hardy (6), Ryan (9)
  • Fielding percentage - Hardy (.992), Ryan (985)
  • Double plays - Hardy (113), Ryan (108)
  • Range Factor/9 - Hardy (4.83), Ryan (4.55)
  • Range Factor/G - Hardy (4.85), Ryan (4.29)

Hardy led all American League shortstops in chances, putouts, assists, double plays and fielding percentage and was tied for second in range factor.

Hardy looks rather odd at short. His throwing delivery is odd compared to other shortstops. Ryan makes pretty much everything look terrific. But the numbers say that Hardy had the better season in the field. It has nothing to do with offense. It has nothing to do relative to how the two teams played this season. Hardy has the numbers to justify his award. That does not take away from how good Ryan is. But the award got it right this time.


Anonymous said...

Your argument is utterly ridiculous and filled with holes. Fangraphs has Ryan way ahead in UZR and defensive runs saved. These are both cumulative stats . Baseball Reference uses Defensive WAR and Ryan killed Hardy in that as well.
You talk about the need to dig a little deeper and then Go ahead and cherry pick stuff like total chances, putouts, assists and double plays turned. A SS has no control over balls put in play. I am not saying these stats don't count but they are hardly a measuring stick.

Why not take a look at the fact that Ryan turned 77% of all double play chances. Feel free to read that line again.

Why delve into some stats that have some real meat.

DPR (double play runs): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, based on the number double plays versus the number forces at second they get, as compared to an average fielder at that position, given the speed and location of the ball and the handedness of the batter.
Ryan is rated a 4.0. Best in MLB and double the next closest SS.
Hardy is rated a -0.3 ( and yet he turned more double plays) Go figure?

RngR (range runs): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity.

Ryan was a 8.8. Best in the AL/2nd in MLB for SS
Hardy was a pedestrian 3.7

Ryan 14.7 Best for all SS in MLB
Hardy 11.4 - if you know anything about this stat, It shows that Hardy is significantly inferior.

Defensive Runs Saved
Ryan - 27 Best for all SS in MLB
Hardy - 18
Again not even close

Defensive Runs Saved since 2009
Ryan - 89 Best in MLB
Hardy - 23
No small sample size there

Defensive WAR
Ryan - 3.6. Best in MLB
Hardy - 2.8
Not even close

Fielding Bible Awards
Ryan - Winner 99 out of 100 possible voter points
Hardy - n/a

Ryan - 2nd place
Hardy - 14th place

Ryan - 2nd place
Hardy - 17th place

Ryan - 4th place
Hardy - 14th place

From John Dewan last week (creator of The Fielding Bible Awards):

“Brendan Ryan is the best defender in baseball. Period. Make that double period. He has saved 67 runs for his teams defensively over the last three years, the highest total among all players. The next highest runs saved total is not even close (Michael Bourn, 51)...."

Funny how Ryan can win the award for best in baseball but can't win the gold for the AL.

Jason Wojciechowski said...

"Your argument is utterly ridiculous and filled with holes."

And your argument is based on batted-ball data.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

UZR - "If you know anything about this stat" Yes, I know it's flawed and no one agrees upon its accuracy. And your other figures are based on "since 2009." We're not talking about "since 2009." We are talking about 2012 where Hardy played twenty more games than Ryan.

And why hide behind the Anonymous tag? Seattle fan?

Anonymous said...

Nice...pick out the 2009 part of my argument. I added that in because sample size can be an issue. Some players can have a huge spike in numbers in one year such as Hardy did this year in DRS. I think we can all agree that Ryan puts up the numbers every year.
UZR may not be perfect but when a player rates significantly higher in that stat as well as DWAR, DRS, DPR,RngR and just about wins the Fielding Bible Anonymously - Don't you think there is something there?

I noticed that you didn't have anything to say about The Fielding Bible and it's panel of voters.

From Joe Posnanski and Ryan not getting the Gold Glove:
"Yep, that's Ryan. He's an artist at shortstop. He's beautiful to watch play defense. There seems absolutely no way that anyone could miss this. J.J. Hardy is a good defensive shortstop too, but he's Salieri. Ryan is Mozart. Thing is, Ryan plays for a mediocre Seattle team that plays on West Coast time, and he didn't hit, and he didn't win. The Gold Gloves should never, ever miss a defensive player like Brendan Ryan."

Hardy played 20 more games and yet Ryan destroyed him in the important cumulative stats (UZR, DWAR, DSR, DPR, RngR)..
Admit it - You wrote this article, you live on the east coast and you have never seen Ryan play.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Yup. East Coast bias alright. That's why I also wrote this: and this: and this:

Few people have been a more urgent supporter of Ryan than I have. Try again.

Anonymous said...

Gotcha. My bad on the East Coast stuff. I write anonymous because I am not the only one in my company that is a crazy baseball fan.
I still think you are wrong however and your supporting statistical evidence is very weak - especially when you have UZR,DSR,DWAR and you can compare them all to each other. Instead you list that he played 20 more games...Come ON!!!!